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Do Gender Stereotypes Reduce Girls' Human Capital Outcomes? Evidence from a Natural Experiment

  • Victor Lavy

Schools and teachers are often said to be a source of stereotypes that harm girls. This paper tests for the existence of gender stereotyping and discrimination by public high-school teachers in Israel. It uses a natural experiment based on blind and non-blind scores that students receive on matriculation exams in their senior year. Using data on test results in several subjects in the humanities and sciences, I found, contrary to expectations, that male students face discrimination in each subject. These biases widen the female male achievement gap because girls outperform boys in all subjects, except English, and at all levels of the curriculum. The bias is evident in all segments of the ability and performance distribution and is robust to various individual controls. Several explanations based on differential behavior between boys and girls are not supported empirically. However, the size of the bias is very sensitive to teachers' characteristics, suggesting that the bias against male students is the result of teachers', and not students', behavior.

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File URL: http://www.nber.org/papers/w10678.pdf
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Paper provided by National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Working Papers with number 10678.

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Date of creation: Aug 2004
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Publication status: published as Lavy, Victor, 2008. "Do gender stereotypes reduce girls' or boys' human capital outcomes? Evidence from a natural experiment," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 92(10-11), pages 2083-2105, October.
Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:10678
Note: ED LS CH
Contact details of provider: Postal: National Bureau of Economic Research, 1050 Massachusetts Avenue Cambridge, MA 02138, U.S.A.
Phone: 617-868-3900
Web page: http://www.nber.org
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  1. Cecilia Rouse & Claudia Goldin, 2000. "Orchestrating Impartiality: The Impact of "Blind" Auditions on Female Musicians," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 90(4), pages 715-741, September.
  2. Joshua Angrist & Victor Lavy, 2003. "Achievement awards for high school matriculation: Evidence from randomized trials," Natural Field Experiments 00202, The Field Experiments Website.
  3. Brian A. Jacob & Steven D. Levitt, 2003. "Rotten Apples: An Investigation of the Prevalence and Predictors of Teacher Cheating," NBER Working Papers 9413, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  4. Blank, Rebecca M, 1991. "The Effects of Double-Blind versus Single-Blind Reviewing: Experimental Evidence from The American Economic Review," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 81(5), pages 1041-67, December.
  5. Joel L. Schrag, 1999. "First Impressions Matter: A Model Of Confirmatory Bias," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 114(1), pages 37-82, February.
  6. Victor Lavy, 2009. "Performance Pay and Teachers' Effort, Productivity, and Grading Ethics," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 99(5), pages 1979-2011, December.
  7. Uri Gneezy & Muriel Niederle & Aldo Rustichini, 2003. "Performance In Competitive Environments: Gender Differences," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 118(3), pages 1049-1074, August.
  8. Paula England, 1982. "The Failure of Human Capital Theory to Explain Occupational Sex Segregation," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 17(3), pages 358-370.
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