NATIONAL BUREAU OF ECONOMIC RESEARCH
NATIONAL BUREAU OF ECONOMIC RESEARCH

Bridging Education Gender Gaps in Developing Countries: The Role of Female Teachers

Karthik Muralidharan, Ketki Sheth

NBER Working Paper No. 19341
Issued in August 2013
NBER Program(s):   CH   DEV   ED

Recruiting female teachers is frequently suggested as a policy option for improving girls' education outcomes in developing countries, but there is surprisingly little evidence on the effectiveness of such a policy. We study gender gaps in learning outcomes, and the effectiveness of female teachers in reducing these gaps using a large, representative, annual panel data set on learning outcomes in rural public schools in the Indian state of Andhra Pradesh. We report six main results in this paper. (1) We find a small but significant negative trend in girls' test scores in both math (0.02σ/year) and language (0.01σ/year) as they progress through the public primary school system; (2) Using five years of panel data, school-grade and student gender by grade fixed effects, we find that both male and female teachers are more effective at teaching students of their own gender; (3) However, female teachers are more effective overall, resulting in girls' test scores improving by an additional 0.036σ in years when they are taught by a female teacher, with no adverse effects on boys when they are taught by female teachers; (4) The overall gains from having a female teacher are mainly attributable to their greater effectiveness at improving math test scores than male teachers (especially for girls); (5) We find no effect of having a same-gender teacher on student attendance, suggesting that the mechanism for the impact on learning outcomes is not on the extensive margin of increased school participation, but on the intensive margin of more effective classroom interactions; (6) Finally, the increasing probability of having a male teacher in higher grades can account for around 10-20% of the negative trend we find in girls' test scores as they move to higher grades.

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Document Object Identifier (DOI): 10.3386/w19341

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