The Gender Gap in Mathematics: Evidence from Low- and Middle-Income Countries

49 Pages Posted: 20 Oct 2012

See all articles by Prashant Bharadwaj

Prashant Bharadwaj

University of California, San Diego (UCSD) - Department of Economics

Giacomo De Giorgi

University College London; NBER; Federal Reserve Banks - Federal Reserve Bank of New York

David Hansen

Brigham Young University

Chris Neilson

Yale University - Department of Economics

Date Written: October 2012

Abstract

We establish the presence of a gender gap in mathematics across many low- and middle-income countries using detailed, comparable test score data. Examining micro level data on school performance linked to household demographics we note that first, the gender gap appears to increase with age. Indeed, the gap nearly doubles when comparing 4th grade and 8th grade test scores. Second, we test whether commonly proposed explanations such as parental background and investments, unobserved ability, and classroom environment (including teacher gender) explain a substantial portion of the gap. While none of these explanations help in substantially explaining the gender gap we observe, we show that boys and girls differ significantly in perceptions about their own ability in math, conditional on math test 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 and De Giorgi, Giacomo and Hansen, David and Neilson, Chris, The Gender Gap in Mathematics: Evidence from Low- and Middle-Income Countries (October 2012). NBER Working Paper No. w18464, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2164589

Prashant Bharadwaj (Contact Author)

University of California, San Diego (UCSD) - Department of Economics ( email )

9500 Gilman Drive
La Jolla, CA 92093-0508
United States

Giacomo De Giorgi

University College London ( email )

Gower Street
London
United Kingdom

NBER ( email )

1050 Massachusetts Avenue
Cambridge, MA 02138
United States

Federal Reserve Banks - Federal Reserve Bank of New York ( email )

33 Liberty Street
New York, NY 10045
United States

David Hansen

Brigham Young University ( email )

Provo, UT 84602
United States

Chris Neilson

Yale University - Department of Economics ( email )

28 Hillhouse Ave
New Haven, CT 06520-8268
United States

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