TY - JOUR
AU - Fryer,Roland G., Jr
AU - Levitt,Steven D.
TI - An Empirical Analysis of the Gender Gap in Mathematics
JF - National Bureau of Economic Research Working Paper Series
VL - No. 15430
PY - 2009
Y2 - October 2009
DO - 10.3386/w15430
UR - http://www.nber.org/papers/w15430
L1 - http://www.nber.org/papers/w15430.pdf
N1 - Author contact info:
Roland G. Fryer Jr
Department of Economics
Harvard University
Littauer Center 208
Cambridge, MA 02138
Tel: 617/495-9592
Fax: 617/495-8570
E-Mail: rolandfryer@edlabs.harvard.edu
Steven D. Levitt
Department of Economics
University of Chicago
1126 East 59th Street
Chicago, IL 60637
Tel: 773/834-1862
Fax: 773/702-8490
E-Mail: slevitt@midway.uchicago.edu
AB - We document and analyze the emergence of a substantial gender gap in mathematics in the early years of schooling using a large, recent, and nationally representative panel of children in the United States. There are no mean differences between boys and girls upon entry to school, but girls lose more than two-tenths of a standard deviation relative to boys over the first six years of school. The ground lost by girls relative to boys is roughly half as large as the black-white test score gap that appears over these same ages. We document the presence of this gender math gap across every strata of society. We explore a wide range of possible explanations in the U.S. data, including less investment by girls in math, low parental expectations, and biased tests, but find little support for any of these theories. Moving to cross-country comparisons, we find that earlier results linking the gender gap in math to measures of gender equality are sensitive to the inclusion of Muslim countries, where in spite of women's low status, there is little or no gender gap in math.
ER -