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A Meta-analysis of the Gender Gap in Performance in Collegiate Economics Courses

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The conventional wisdom has been that men outperform otherwise equivalent women in collegiate economics courses. Recent work in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) fields documenting gains by women suggests that it is time to reevaluate the gender performance gap in economics. Surveying 68 studies containing 235 distinct regressions published since 1980, we find that 68.4% of regressions report men outperform women, though this is only statistically significant in 30.7% of regressions. Although the literature points to numerous reasons for this gap, our focus is on the effects of study design and the impact of broad socio-cultural changes over time. Using meta-regression analysis, we find that the likelihood of observing a statistically significant gap has declined noticeably, by almost 3% annually. Although the drop may not be as large as in some STEM fields, the result is highly robust to the specification of the time trend and the model.
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Keywords: A22; J16; economic education; gender gap; meta-regression analysis; student performance

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: Department of Economics, College of Business, University of Wisconsin Oshkosh, Oshkosh, WI, 54901, USA

Publication date: October 2, 2014

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