Mathematics and sciences course taking among Arab students in Israel: Case of unexpected gender equality

Hanna Ayalon*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

23 Scopus citations


Using multilevel analysis on a sample of academic-track 12th graders in 1989, this article compares gender inequality in course taking of mathematics and sciences in Arab and Jewish high schools. The findings show that gender inequality is almost nonexistent in Arab schools, whereas it is very prominent in Jewish, particularly secular, schools. The differences in gender inequality are explained by the differences in the curriculum. In contrast with Jewish high schools that offer a rich curriculum, Arab schools offer few advanced courses in humanities and social sciences. Consequently, male and female students who wish to take advanced courses have to choose mathematics and sciences. The findings point to a sociological paradox; the poor curriculum of Arab high schools enhances the chances of Arab female students to be exposed to highly valued knowledge. These findings shed an additional light on the beneficial effect that a restricted curriculum can have for members of disadvantaged groups.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)63-80
Number of pages18
JournalEducational Evaluation and Policy Analysis
Issue number1
StatePublished - 2002


  • Arab schools
  • Course taking
  • Inequality
  • Israel
  • Jewish schools
  • Math
  • Multilevel analysis
  • Religious schools, sciences
  • Secondary education


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