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Let the girls learn! It is not only about math … it's about gender social norms

Núria Rodriguez-Planas () and Natalia Nollenberger

Economics of Education Review, 2018, vol. 62, issue C, 230-253

Abstract: Using PISA test scores from 11,527 second-generation immigrants coming from 35 different countries of ancestry and living in 9 host countries, we find that the positive effects of country-of-ancestry gender social norms on girls’ math test scores relative to those of boys expand to other subjects (namely reading and science). We further find that gender norms shaped by beliefs on women's political empowerment and economic opportunity affect the gender gaps in test scores in general. Interestingly, gender norms do not seem to particularly influence math-related stereotypes, but instead, preferences for math. Finally, the evidence indicates that these findings are driven by cognitive skills, suggesting that social gender norms affect parent's expectations on girls’ academic knowledge relative to that of boys, but not on other attributes for success—such as non-cognitive skills. Taken together, our results highlight the relevance of general (as opposed to math-specific) gender stereotypes on the math gender gap.

Keywords: Gender gap in math; Reading and science; Beliefs and preferences; Second-generation-immigrants; Cognitive and non-cognitive skills; Culture and institutions (search for similar items in EconPapers)
JEL-codes: I21 I24 J16 Z13 (search for similar items in EconPapers)
Date: 2018
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DOI: 10.1016/j.econedurev.2017.11.006

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