The Gender Gap in Mathematics: Evidence from Chile


Using a large administrative data set from Chile, we find that on average boys perform better than girls in math. In this article, we document several features of boys versus girls’ relative performance in math. First, we note that the gender gap appears to increase with age (doubles between fourth grade and eighth grade). Second, we test whether commonly proposed explanations such as parental background and investments, unobserved ability, and classroom environment (including teacher gender) help explain a substantial portion of the gap. While none of these explanations help in explaining a large portion of the gender gap, we show that boys and girls differ significantly in perceptions about their own ability in math. Conditional on math scores, compared to boys, girls are much more likely to state that they dislike math or find math difficult. 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.

  • Coauthors: Prashant Bharadwaj, Giacomo De Giorgi, David Hansen
  • Published: Economic Development and Cultural Change 65, no. 1 (October 2016): 141-166
  • Date: 2016
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