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Gender, culture and STEM: Counter-intuitive patterns in Arab society

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  • Friedman-Sokuler, Naomi
  • Justman, Moshe

Abstract

Arab society in Israel offers a counter-example, which calls into question the hypothesis that the male advantage in STEM decreases as gender equality in society increases. Analyzing administrative longitudinal data on students in Hebrew- and Arabic-language schools in Israel, all operating within the same centralized education system, we find that the gender achievement-gap favoring girls in Arabic schools, the ethnic group characterized by less gender equality, is greater than the gender gap favoring girls in Hebrew schools. Moreover, maledominated STEM matriculation electives in Hebrew schools are female-dominated in Arabic schools, controlling for prior achievement in mathematics. We show that these patterns are not dependent on socioeconomic or school characteristics but rather reflect ethnic differences in the gendered effect of prior achievement on subject choice. While in Hebrew-language schools the gender gaps favoring men in physics, computer science and advanced mathematics electives increase in early mathematical achievement, in Arabic-language schools gender gaps favoring men are non-existent and even reversed among top achieving students.

Suggested Citation

  • Friedman-Sokuler, Naomi & Justman, Moshe, 2019. "Gender, culture and STEM: Counter-intuitive patterns in Arab society," GLO Discussion Paper Series 307, Global Labor Organization (GLO).
  • Handle: RePEc:zbw:glodps:307
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    More about this item

    Keywords

    culture; gender gap in mathematics; STEM; Arab society; educational choice;

    JEL classification:

    • I21 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Education - - - Analysis of Education
    • J15 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demographic Economics - - - Economics of Minorities, Races, Indigenous Peoples, and Immigrants; Non-labor Discrimination
    • J16 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demographic Economics - - - Economics of Gender; Non-labor Discrimination
    • J24 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demand and Supply of Labor - - - Human Capital; Skills; Occupational Choice; Labor Productivity

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