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Michela Carlana - Research Summary

Stockholm University

The Influence of Gender Stereotypes

This paper analyzes the role of gender stereotypes of teachers on track choice, improvements in math and gender gaps. Using detailed information from a panel dataset on Italian students, I show that teachers’ biased assessment has a substantial impact on the choice of STEM track of females and no impact for males. Furthermore, if teachers have a positive bias in assessment toward female, girls’ improvements in math are significantly higher. Thanks to detailed survey data on the importance assigned to students to their own ability, I provide evidence of a self-fulfilling mechanism behind these effects. Finally, I show that most of the additional gender gap in math from grade 6 to 8 is due to classes with teaches’ gender bias in grading against girls.

I am currently working on collecting new and original data through a questionnaire to more than 1400 middle school teachers with the Gender-Science Implicit Association Test (IAT), detailed demographic information and the assignment of teachers to pupils in the past six years. The contribution of these new data is at least twofold. First, this is the first work that assesses the role of implicit gender stereotypes of teachers on their students’ performance and STEM track choice. Second, this is the first study in education economics literature that aims at rigorously investigating whether differences in implicit attitudes are associated with different behaviors in the field. The policy implications of this work are extremely important to understand the role of cultural stereotypes in exacerbating gender inequality.