The Math Gender Gap and Women's Career Outcomes

39 Pages Posted: 16 Mar 2017 Last revised: 24 Mar 2022

See all articles by Renee B. Adams

Renee B. Adams

University of Oxford

Brad M. Barber

University of California, Davis

Terrance Odean

University of California, Berkeley - Haas School of Business

Date Written: December 16, 2019


We show the math gender gap is correlated with women’s career outcomes using international geographic data on the investment profession, a math-intensive and 80% male profession. The math gender gap predicts the proportion of investment professionals who are women across countries and across states. Our results do not establish a causal relationship between the math gender gap and women’s career outcomes. However, the math gender gap as a correlate of women’s career outcomes is not mitigated by the inclusion of control variables related to female labor force participation, gender inequality measures, competition attitudes, and gender preferences. These results suggest there are societal factors that vary geographically, (e.g., a widespread belief that women have weaker math ability) and affect both the math performance of middle school girls and women’s career choices. Addressing these societal factors can decrease the math gender gap and increase the representation of women in highly quantitative fields like finance, which might help to reduce the gender pay gap since quantitative fields like finance tend to be highly paid.

Keywords: Math Gender Gap, Gender Preferences, Gender Inequality, Women’s Careers

JEL Classification: G20, I24, J24

Suggested Citation

Adams, Renée B. and Barber, Brad M. and Odean, Terrance, The Math Gender Gap and Women's Career Outcomes (December 16, 2019). Available at SSRN: or

Renée B. Adams

University of Oxford ( email )

Park End Street
Oxford, OX1 1HP
Great Britain

Brad M. Barber (Contact Author)

University of California, Davis ( email )

Graduate School of Management
One Shields Avenue
Davis, CA 95616
United States
530-752-0512 (Phone)
530-752-2924 (Fax)

Terrance Odean

University of California, Berkeley - Haas School of Business ( email )

545 Student Services Building, #1900
2220 Piedmont Avenue
Berkeley, CA 94720
United States
510-642-6767 (Phone)
510-666-2561 (Fax)


Do you have a job opening that you would like to promote on SSRN?

Paper statistics

Abstract Views
PlumX Metrics