April 4th, 2015
from the New York Fed
Throughout much of the developing world, women tend to be disadvantaged in terms of job opportunities and wages (Sen, 1999). This gap is at least partially due to a significant gender gap in educational levels which remain large in many countries (World Development Report 2012). This gap is also potentially due to difference in the types of human capital women and men acquire, even conditional on the same level of education. For example, there is substantial evidence of a strong correlation between math test scores, math based curriculum, mathematical majors in college and future income earned, suggesting that observed differences in math skills across genders can explain part of the wage gap.
It is therefore important for research to address the differences in the development of math skills and the determinants of math related specializations and the role played by myriad factors starting from early childhood, such as parental investments, preferences, expectations and innate ability. Understanding when and how differences between men and women begin to develop in the process of human capital accumulation is crucial to understand the gender gap in wages and job opportunities later in life.