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Different Questions, Different Gender Gap: Can the Format of Questions Explain the Gender Gap in Mathematics?

Silvia Griselda

2020 Papers from Job Market Papers

Abstract: Standardized assessments are widely used to determine educational and economic opportunities. These standardized assessments exclusively, or in large part, use multiple-choice questions. But multiple-choice exams may not be adequate for comparing studentsâ competencies across genders. In this paper, I show that female students receive lower marks when randomly assigned to exams with a larger proportion of multiple-choice questions. Specifically, a 10 percentage point increase in the proportion of multiple-choice questions widens the gender difference in mathematics performance by 0.026 standard deviations in favor of men, an effect that represents about 50% of the overall gender gap. Moreover, a higher proportion of multiple-choice questions has negative spillovers to other open-ended questions on the same exam. Female students exert less effort than males on tests that contain a larger proportion of multiple-choice questions. I provide suggestive evidence that these results are driven by womenâs lower confidence and by the stereotypes that women face in traditionally male domains.

JEL-codes: I21 I24 J24 (search for similar items in EconPapers)
Date: 2020-11-12
New Economics Papers: this item is included in nep-edu, nep-exp and nep-gen
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