Claire Thibout

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Title: The importance of self-confidence in explaining subject choices in high school

Abstract: Educational choices remain incredibly gendered. This paper investigates whether the subject choices of Australian students in high school are influenced by gender differences in beliefs about abilities. We use the 2009 cohort of the Longitudinal Surveys of Australian Youth (LSAY), which contains both students’ PISA test scores and their self-perceptions in their own abilities compared with other students in English/literacy, mathematics, and science. This allows us to build a measure of over/under-confidence in all three subjects. Our analysis also controls for the efforts exerted by the students in each subject. We show that girls slightly under-estimate themselves in English compared to boys, however this is not the case in mathematics or science. But when choosing their set of subjects, girls are more sensitive than boys to their confidence in English. Failing to control for self-confidence leads to biased coefficients of the PISA scores.

Presenter: Claire Thibout, Melbourne Institute

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