Monday, November 17, 2008

pro-girl teacher biases

Victor Lavy (Hebrew U) looks for gender biases held by high school teachers in Israel. His results suggest that girls benefit from teacher biases, which is largely contrary to popular beliefs that teacher biases may harm girls. The abstract:
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 difference 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 difference is very sensitive to teachers' characteristics, suggesting that the bias against male students is the result of teachers', and not students', behavior.
The paper is recently published in the Journal of Public Economics. Download it here.

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