The gender gap in mathematics achievement: Evidence from Italian data
Gender differences in the STEM (Science Technology Engineering and Mathematics) disciplines are widespread in most OECD countries and mathematics is the only subject where girls tend to underperform with respect to boys. This paper analyses the gender gap in math test scores in Italy, which is one of the countries displaying the largest differential between boys and girls, according to the latest Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA). We use data from an Italian national level learning assessment, involving children in selected grades from second to tenth, and analyse the gender gap in mathematics test scores using OLS, school fixed effects, quantile regression, metric free and dynamic pseudo-panel models. Our results show that girls systematically underperform boys, even after controlling for an array of individual and family background characteristics. The average gender gap increases with children's age, is larger among top performing children, and girls keep losing ground relative to boys when progressing in the education system.