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The gender gap in mathematics: evidence from a middle-income country

Author

Listed:
  • Bharadwaj, Prashant
  • De Giorgi, Giacomo

    (Federal Reserve Bank of New York)

  • Hansen, David
  • Neilson, Christopher

Abstract

Using a large administrative data set from Chile, we find that, on average, boys perform better than girls in mathematics. In this paper, we document several features of their relative performance. First, we note that the gender gap appears to increase with age (it doubles between fourth grade and eighth grade). Second, we test whether commonly proposed explanations such as parental background and investment in the child, unobserved ability, and classroom environment (including teacher gender) help explain a substantial portion of the gap. While none of these explanations help in explaining a large portion of the gender gap, we show that boys and girls differ significantly in perceptions about their own ability in math. Conditional on math scores, girls are much more likely to state that they dislike math, or find math difficult, compared to boys. We highlight differences in self-assessed ability as areas for future research that might lead to a better understanding of the gender gap in math.

Suggested Citation

  • Bharadwaj, Prashant & De Giorgi, Giacomo & Hansen, David & Neilson, Christopher, 2015. "The gender gap in mathematics: evidence from a middle-income country," Staff Reports 721, Federal Reserve Bank of New York.
  • Handle: RePEc:fip:fednsr:721
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    References listed on IDEAS

    as
    1. Scott E. Carrell & Marianne E. Page & James E. West, 2010. "Sex and Science: How Professor Gender Perpetuates the Gender Gap," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 125(3), pages 1101-1144.
    2. Glenn Ellison & Ashley Swanson, 2010. "The Gender Gap in Secondary School Mathematics at High Achievement Levels: Evidence from the American Mathematics Competitions," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 24(2), pages 109-128, Spring.
    3. Paglin, Morton & Rufolo, Anthony M, 1990. "Heterogeneous Human Capital, Occupational Choice, and Male-Female Earnings Differences," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 8(1), pages 123-144, January.
    4. Joseph G. Altonji & Erica Blom & Costas Meghir, 2012. "Heterogeneity in Human Capital Investments: High School Curriculum, College Major, and Careers," Annual Review of Economics, Annual Reviews, vol. 4(1), pages 185-223, July.
    5. Prashant Bharadwaj & Giacomo de Giorgi & David Hansen & CHRISTOPHER NEILSON, 2012. "The Gender Gap in Mathematics: Evidence from Low-and-Middle Income Countries," Working Papers id:5155, eSocialSciences.
    6. Bharadwaj, Prashant & De Giorgi, Giacomo & Hansen, David & Neilson, Christopher, 2015. "The gender gap in mathematics: evidence from a middle-income country," Staff Reports 721, Federal Reserve Bank of New York.
    7. Richard J. Murnane & John B. Willett & Yves Duhaldeborde & John H. Tyler, 2000. "How important are the cognitive skills of teenagers in predicting subsequent earnings?," Journal of Policy Analysis and Management, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 19(4), pages 547-568.
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    Citations

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    Cited by:

    1. Harounan Kazianga & Leigh Linden & Ali Protik & Matt Sloan, 2016. "The Medium-Term Impacts of Girl-Friendly Schools: Seven-Year Evidence from School Construction in Burkina Faso," Development Working Papers 406, Centro Studi Luca d'Agliano, University of Milano, revised 11 Nov 2016.
    2. Avitabile, Ciro & de Hoyos, Rafael, 2018. "The heterogeneous effect of information on student performance: Evidence from a randomized control trial in Mexico," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 135(C), pages 318-348.
    3. Hahn, Youjin & Hassani Mahmooei, Behrooz & Islam, Asadul & Patacchini, Eleonora & Zenou, Yves, 2016. "Do Friends Improve Female Education? The Case of Bangladesh," CEPR Discussion Papers 11615, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
    4. Umut Oguzoglu & Ozbeklik Serkan, 2016. "Like Father, Like Daughter (Unless There Is a Son): Sibling Sex Composition and Women's Stem Major Choice in College," Working Papers 596, Princeton University, Department of Economics, Industrial Relations Section..
    5. Hahn, Youjin & Islam, Asadul & Patacchini, Eleonora & Zenou, Yves, 2017. "Do Friendship Networks Improve Female Education?," IZA Discussion Papers 10674, Institute of Labor Economics (IZA).
    6. repec:spr:izalbr:v:7:y:2018:i:1:d:10.1186_s40172-018-0069-4 is not listed on IDEAS
    7. Karthik Muralidharan & Ketki Sheth, 2016. "Bridging Education Gender Gaps in Developing Countries: The Role of Female Teachers," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 51(2), pages 269-297.
    8. Marina Bassi & Rae Lesser Blumberg & Mercedes Mateo Díaz, 2016. "Under the "Cloak of Invisibility": Gender Bias in Teaching Practices and Learning Outcomes," IDB Publications (Working Papers) 94336, Inter-American Development Bank.
    9. repec:cje:issued:v:51:y:2018:i:2:p:627-659 is not listed on IDEAS
    10. Magdalena Smyk, 2017. "Gender beliefs and planned occupation: high school pupils and their parents," GRAPE Working Papers 3, GRAPE Group for Research in Applied Economics.
    11. Prashant Bharadwaj & Giacomo De Giorgi & David Hansen & Christopher A. Neilson, 2016. "The Gender Gap in Mathematics: Evidence from Chile," Economic Development and Cultural Change, University of Chicago Press, vol. 65(1), pages 141-166.
    12. Anne (A.C.) Gielen & Esmee Zwiers, 2018. "Biology and the gender gap in educational performance - The role of prenatal testosterone in test scores," Tinbergen Institute Discussion Papers 18-086/V, Tinbergen Institute.
    13. Michael J. Kottelenberg & Steven F. Lehrer, 2018. "Does Quebecs subsidized child care policy give boys and girls an equal start?," Canadian Journal of Economics, Canadian Economics Association, vol. 51(2), pages 627-659, May.
    14. Moshe Justman & Susan J. Méndez, 2016. "Gendered Selection of STEM Subjects for Matriculation," Melbourne Institute Working Paper Series wp2016n10, Melbourne Institute of Applied Economic and Social Research, The University of Melbourne.
    15. Carlana, Michela, 2018. "Implicit Stereotypes: Evidence from Teachers' Gender Bias," IZA Discussion Papers 11659, Institute of Labor Economics (IZA).
    16. Bharadwaj, Prashant & De Giorgi, Giacomo & Hansen, David & Neilson, Christopher, 2015. "The gender gap in mathematics: evidence from a middle-income country," Staff Reports 721, Federal Reserve Bank of New York.
    17. Magdalena Smyk, 2017. "Gender occupational segregation: the role of parents," GRAPE Working Papers 4, GRAPE Group for Research in Applied Economics.

    More about this item

    Keywords

    gender gap; education; middle-income countries;

    JEL classification:

    • I00 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - General - - - General
    • I25 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Education - - - Education and Economic Development
    • J16 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demographic Economics - - - Economics of Gender; Non-labor Discrimination

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