NATIONAL BUREAU OF ECONOMIC RESEARCH
NATIONAL BUREAU OF ECONOMIC RESEARCH

Do Gender Stereotypes Reduce Girls' Human Capital Outcomes? Evidence from a Natural Experiment

Victor Lavy

NBER Working Paper No. 10678
Issued in August 2004
NBER Program(s):   ED   LS   CH

Schools and teachers are often said to be a source of stereotypes that harm girls. This paper tests for the existence of gender stereotyping and discrimination by public high-school teachers in Israel. It uses a natural experiment based on blind and non-blind scores that students receive on matriculation exams in their senior year. Using data on test results in several subjects in the humanities and sciences, I found, contrary to expectations, that male students face discrimination in each subject. These biases widen the female male achievement gap because girls outperform boys in all subjects, except English, and at all levels of the curriculum. The bias is evident in all segments of the ability and performance distribution and is robust to various individual controls. Several explanations based on differential behavior between boys and girls are not supported empirically. However, the size of the bias is very sensitive to teachers' characteristics, suggesting that the bias against male students is the result of teachers', and not students', behavior.

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Document Object Identifier (DOI): 10.3386/w10678

Published: Lavy, Victor, 2008. "Do gender stereotypes reduce girls' or boys' human capital outcomes? Evidence from a natural experiment," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 92(10-11), pages 2083-2105, October.

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