Educational standardization and gender differences in mathematics achievement: A comparative study

Hanna Ayalon*, Idit Livneh

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


We argue that between-country variations in the gender gap in mathematics are related to the level of educational system standardization. In countries with standardized educational systems both genders are exposed to similar knowledge and are motivated to invest in studying mathematics, which leads to similar achievements. We hypothesize that national examinations and between-teacher uniformity in covering major mathematics topics are associated with a smaller gender gap in a country. Based on Trends of International Mathematical and Science Study (TIMSS) 2003, we use multilevel regression models to compare the link of these two factors to the gender gap in 32 countries, controlling for various country characteristics. The use of national examinations and less between-teacher instructional variation prove major factors in reducing the advantage of boys over girls in mathematics scores and in the odds of excelling. Factors representing gender stratification, often analyzed in comparative gender-gap research in mathematics, are at most marginal in respect of the gap.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)432-445
Number of pages14
JournalSocial Science Research
Issue number2
StatePublished - Mar 2013


  • Between-teacher instructional variation
  • Economic development
  • Gender stratification
  • Hierarchical analysis
  • National examinations


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