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CEP discussion paper

Giving a little help to girls? Evidence on grade discrimination and its effect on students' achievement


This paper tests if gender-discrimination in grading affects pupils' achievements and course choices. I use a unique dataset containing grades given by teachers, scores obtained anonymously by pupils at different ages, and their course choice during high school. Based on double-differences, the identification of the gender bias in grades suggests that girls benefit from a substantive positive discrimination in math but not in French. This bias is not explained by girls' better behavior and only marginally by their lower initial achievement. I then use the heterogeneity in teachers' discriminatory behavior to show that classes in which teachers present a high degree of discrimination in favor of girls are also classes in which girls tend to progress significantly more than boys, during the school year but also during the next four years. Teachers' biases also increase the relative probability that girls attend a general high school and chose science courses.


Camille Terrier

30 March 2015     Paper Number CEPDP1341

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This CEP discussion paper is published under the centre's Education and skills programme.