Gender gap among high achievers in math and implications for STEM pipeline


This study examined a new form of pervasive gender inequality: the gender gap among high achievers in math and considered its implication for developing STEM talents. Using the cross-nation Programme for International Student Achievement (PISA) data from both 2003 and 2012, we examined the mathematics gender gap among 15-year-old high achievers across ten countries/regions. We showed a consistent male advantage among the top performers in mathematics. Follow-up regression analyses revealed that the gap was associated with some socio-demographic and schooling/attitudinal variables, even after controlling for the background variables. We argue that education communities should acknowledge and address this form of gender inequality, as it could have ramifications for the science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) education pipeline. Educators and society in general still face challenges in closing the gender gap among high achievers in math with an aim to develop a gender-balanced STEM talent pool.

The Asia-Pacific Education Researcher, 23(3)
Yisu Zhou
Associate Professor of Education Policy

My research focus on sociology of education