Implicit Stereotypes: Evidence from Teachers’ Gender Bias

83 Pages Posted: 29 Oct 2018

Date Written: July 30, 2018


I study whether exposure to teachers’ stereotypes, as measured by the Gender-Science Implicit Association Test, affects student achievement. I provide evidence that the gender gap in math performance substantially increases when students are assigned to teachers with stronger gender stereotypes. Teachers’ stereotypes induce girls to underperform in math and self-select into less demanding high-schools, following the track recommendation of their teachers. These effects are at least partially driven by a lower self-confidence on own math ability of girls exposed to gender biased teachers. The findings are consistent with the hypothesis that stereotypes impair the test performance of ability-stigmatized groups, who end up failing to achieve their full potential.

Keywords: gender, math, teachers, implicit stereotypes, IAT, self-confidence, track choice

JEL Classification: J16, J24, I24

Suggested Citation

Carlana, Michela, Implicit Stereotypes: Evidence from Teachers’ Gender Bias (July 30, 2018). HKS Working Paper No. RWP18-034, Available at SSRN: or

Michela Carlana (Contact Author)

Harvard Kennedy School ( email )

79 John F. Kennedy Street
Cambridge, MA 02138
United States

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