The gender gap in mathematics self-assessment: evidence from twins

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Abstract (Preliminary): It is well established that boys perceive themselves to be better in mathematics than girls, even conditional on their objective math performance or test scores. We examine the gender gap in math self-assessment using a longitudinal study of twins. We use repeated measures of individual self-assessment in mathematics from childhood and adolescence, along with mathematics grades and test scores, parent and teacher mathematics assessments, and measures of gender roles within the family. Our results show that boys have higher self-assessment in their mathematics ability and that this gender gap is even larger within opposite-sex twin pairs. We find a similar gender gap in parents’ assessment of their children’s abilities. Objective math performance explains only 14-26 percent of the gender gap in math self-assessment, while parental assessment explains another 23%. We find that gender roles in the home or within-twin peer effects do not contribute to the gap.

Keywords: data of twins, education, gender gap, mathematics self-assessment