Michelle Rendall, Monash Business School - Gender and Disadvantage in the Evolution of Test Score Gaps

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Melbourne Institute Seminar

Title: Gender and Disadvantage in the Evolution of Test Score Gaps

Abstract:  Performance of students in numeracy tests reveals gaps based on students’ gender and their socioeconomic status. In this paper, using longitudinal data on Australian children, we show the interrelationship between socioeconomic gaps, based on early-life household income and parental education, and the gender gap in numeracy. We find that between Grades 3 to 9, boys have a distinct advantage in numeracy scores over girls, which widens over time. We also find that, by Grade 9, poorer female students are doubly disadvantaged. This disadvantage does not arise because of differences in socioeconomic status between boys and girls but because the effect of lower socioeconomic background on test scores is significant only for girls. We confirm that early life circumstances continue to impact student’s achievement well into adolescence and these exacerbate gender gaps, thus demonstrating the importance of targeted early interventions to address gaps in key skills acquisition for the modern economy.

Presenter: Michelle Rendall, Monash Business School

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