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

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  • Karthik Muralidharan
  • Ketki Sheth

Abstract

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.

Suggested Citation

  • Karthik Muralidharan & Ketki Sheth, 2013. "Bridging Education Gender Gaps in Developing Countries: The Role of Female Teachers," NBER Working Papers 19341, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  • Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:19341
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. 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.
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    5. repec:aea:aejapp:v:9:y:2017:i:3:p:321-50 is not listed on IDEAS
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    Cited by:

    1. Azam, Mehtabul & Kingdon, Geeta Gandhi, 2015. "Assessing teacher quality in India," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 117(C), pages 74-83.
    2. Jaegeum Lim & Jonathan Meer, 2017. "Persistent Effects of Teacher-Student Gender Matches," NBER Working Papers 24128, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    3. 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.
    4. Karachiwalla, Naureen, 2013. "A teacher unlike me: Social distance, learning, and intergenerational mobility in developing countries," MPRA Paper 64439, University Library of Munich, Germany, revised 22 May 2015.
    5. 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.
    6. Soohyung Lee & Lesley J. Turner & Seokjin Woo & Kyunghee Kim, 2014. "All or Nothing? The Impact of School and Classroom Gender Composition on Effort and Academic Achievement," NBER Working Papers 20722, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    7. Hahn, Youjin & Islam, Asadul & Patacchini, Eleonora & Zenou, Yves, 2017. "Do Friendship Networks Improve Female Education?," IZA Discussion Papers 10674, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
    8. Jaegeum Lim & Jonathan Meer, 2017. "Persistent Effects of Teacher-Student Gender Matches," Working Papers id:12332, eSocialSciences.
    9. repec:ces:ifodic:v:15:y:2017:i:2:p:19337553 is not listed on IDEAS
    10. Barrera-Osorio,Felipe & Blakeslee,David S. & Hoover,Matthew & Linden,Leigh & Raju,Dhushyanth & Ryan,Stephen P., 2017. "Delivering education to the underserved through a public-private partnership program in Pakistan," Policy Research Working Paper Series 8177, The World Bank.
    11. Lee, Jieun & Rhee, Dong-eun & Rudolf, Robert, 2017. "Teacher Gender, Student Gender, and Primary School Achievement: Evidence from Ten Francophone African Countries," MPRA Paper 77329, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    12. René Böheim & Dominik Grübl & Mario Lackner, 2017. "Gender Differences in Competitiveness," ifo DICE Report, ifo Institute - Leibniz Institute for Economic Research at the University of Munich, vol. 15(2), pages 13-17, August.
    13. repec:ces:ifodic:v:15:y:2017:i:2:p:13-17 is not listed on IDEAS
    14. Fagernäs, Sonja & Pelkonen, Panu, 2017. "Where's the Teacher? How Teacher Workplace Segregation Impedes Teacher Allocation in India," IZA Discussion Papers 10595, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
    15. Giordono, Leanne & Pugatch, Todd, 2015. "Informal Fee Elimination and Student Performance: Evidence from The Gambia," IZA Discussion Papers 9560, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
    16. Hisanobu Kakizawa, 2017. "The Effects of Student-Teacher Gender Matching on Students f Performance in Junior High Schools in Japan," Discussion Papers in Economics and Business 17-29, Osaka University, Graduate School of Economics and Osaka School of International Public Policy (OSIPP).

    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • I21 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Education - - - Analysis of Education
    • J16 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demographic Economics - - - Economics of Gender; Non-labor Discrimination
    • O15 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economic Development - - - Economic Development: Human Resources; Human Development; Income Distribution; Migration

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