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Bridging Education Gender Gaps in Developing Countries: The Role of Female Teachers

  • Karthik Muralidharan
  • Ketki Sheth

Recruiting female teachers is frequently suggested as a policy option for improving girls' education outcomes in developing countries, but there is surprisingly little evidence on the effectiveness of such a policy. We study gender gaps in learning outcomes, and the effectiveness of female teachers in reducing these gaps using a large, representative, annual panel data set on learning outcomes in rural public schools in the Indian state of Andhra Pradesh. We report six main results in this paper. (1) We find a small but significant negative trend in girls' test scores in both math (0.02σ/year) and language (0.01σ/year) as they progress through the public primary school system; (2) Using five years of panel data, school-grade and student gender by grade fixed effects, we find that both male and female teachers are more effective at teaching students of their own gender; (3) However, female teachers are more effective overall, resulting in girls' test scores improving by an additional 0.036σ in years when they are taught by a female teacher, with no adverse effects on boys when they are taught by female teachers; (4) The overall gains from having a female teacher are mainly attributable to their greater effectiveness at improving math test scores than male teachers (especially for girls); (5) We find no effect of having a same-gender teacher on student attendance, suggesting that the mechanism for the impact on learning outcomes is not on the extensive margin of increased school participation, but on the intensive margin of more effective classroom interactions; (6) Finally, the increasing probability of having a male teacher in higher grades can account for around 10-20% of the negative trend we find in girls' test scores as they move to higher grades.

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Paper provided by National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Working Papers with number 19341.

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Date of creation: Aug 2013
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Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:19341
Note: CH DEV ED
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  1. Muralidharan, Karthik & Prakash, Nishith, 2013. "Cycling to School: Increasing Secondary School Enrollment for Girls in India," IZA Discussion Papers 7585, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  2. Amine Ouazad & Lionel Page, 2012. "Students’ Perceptions of Teacher Biases: Experimental Economics in Schools," CEE Discussion Papers 0133, Centre for the Economics of Education, LSE.
  3. Roland G. Fryer, Jr & Steven D. Levitt, 2009. "An Empirical Analysis of the Gender Gap in Mathematics," NBER Working Papers 15430, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  4. 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, MIT Press, vol. 125(3), pages 1101-1144, August.
  5. Karthik Muralidharan & Venkatesh Sundararaman, 2011. "Teacher Performance Pay: Experimental Evidence from India," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 119(1), pages 39 - 77.
  6. Florian Hoffman & Philip Oreopoulos, 2007. "A Professor Like Me: The Influence of Instructor Gender on College Achievement," NBER Working Papers 13182, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  7. Thomas S. Dee, 2004. "Teachers, Race, and Student Achievement in a Randomized Experiment," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 86(1), pages 195-210, February.
  8. Holmlund, Helena & Sund, Krister, 2005. "Is the Gender Gap in School Performance Affected by the Sex of the Teacher?," Working Paper Series 5/2005, Swedish Institute for Social Research.
  9. Robert W. Fairlie & Florian Hoffmann & Philip Oreopoulos, 2011. "A Community College Instructor Like Me: Race and Ethnicity Interactions in the Classroom," NBER Working Papers 17381, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  10. Shenila Rawal & Geeta Kingdon, 2010. "Akin to my teacher: Does caste, religious or gender distance between student and teacher matter? Some evidence from India," DoQSS Working Papers 10-18, Department of Quantitative Social Science - UCL Institute of Education, University College London.
  11. 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.
  12. Eric P. Bettinger & Bridget Terry Long, 2005. "Do Faculty Serve as Role Models? The Impact of Instructor Gender on Female Students," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 95(2), pages 152-157, May.
  13. 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.
  14. Winters, Marcus A. & Haight, Robert C. & Swaim, Thomas T. & Pickering, Katarzyna A., 2013. "The effect of same-gender teacher assignment on student achievement in the elementary and secondary grades: Evidence from panel data," Economics of Education Review, Elsevier, vol. 34(C), pages 69-75.
  15. Lucia Nixon & Michael Robinson, 1999. "The educational attainment of young women: Role model effects of female high school faculty," Demography, Springer, vol. 36(2), pages 185-194, May.
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