Gender Differences in School Achievement

Read the abstract here.

Picture of Isa Steinmann.

Postdoctoral Fellow Isa Steinmann.


The relative school achievement of female and male students varies over time and domains. During the last decades, female participation in primary schooling has increased in countries at the low end of the income scale. At the same time, in countries at the high end of the same scale, male underachievement has gained much attention. Gender differences in school achievement cannot be understood purely as a result of classroom activities or of schools as social systems. Factors in society have to play an important role as well, since countries vary drastically in the same assessments of student gender gaps. How men and women are positioned in power structures, in the labor market, and in the family are considered important. Cultural traditions affecting social relations, the understanding of the self, and different attitudes toward schooling are always present. However, school achievement is important for individual life opportunities and achievement differences between females and males are markers of a society’s gender structure.

In this chapter, we systematically review research on gender differences across several domains, including mathematics, science, reading, civics, and computer and information literacy. The focus on International Large-Scale Assessment (ILSA) data allows to compare gender gaps across countries or regions, across domains, and over time. In a first step, we systematically reviewed the primary reports of main ILSA studies with respect to gender gaps in achievement. Second, we systematically reviewed 42 secondary analyses of ILSA data that investigated correlates of gender differences in achievement and therefore add a more explanatory perspective to the chapter.


Rosén, Monica; Steinmann, Isa & Wernersson, Inga (2022). Gender Differences in Achievement. I Nilsen, Trude; Stancel-Piątak, Agnes & Gustafsson, Jan-Eric (Red.), International Handbook of Comparative Large-Scale Studies in Education. Springer. ISSN 978-3-030-38298-8. doi: 10.1007/978-3-030-38298-8_46-1.

Published Apr. 4, 2022 2:27 PM - Last modified Apr. 4, 2022 2:27 PM