Going Beyond Test Scores: The Gender Gap in Italian Children’s Mathematical Capability

Publication Name

Feminist Economics


This paper investigates the relationship between gender, attitudes, and test scores in mathematics. The study argues that measures of children’s capability in mathematics must include some indicators of attitudes toward the subject. These are particularly important when analyzing gender gaps because attitudes toward mathematics differ by gender. To this end, the study first analyzes the gender gap in attitudes and test scores separately using school fixed effects models. Second, it estimates a structural equation model, which takes into account that mathematical capability is a latent construct for which some indicators (test scores and attitudes) are observed. Using data from the Italian National Institute for the Evaluation of Education Systems (INVALSI) for school years 5 and 10 in 2014 and 2015, results confirm that when mathematics capability, including both attitudes and test scores, is measured, the gap between boys and girls changes, and it is therefore relevant to consider both concepts.

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