Gender equity in mathematical achievement: the case of china

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Gender differences in achievement in mathematics, a traditionally male-stereotyped subject,have long been a concern for many educators around the world. Gender differences inmathematical achievement have decreased in recent decades, especially in Western countries,and become small or insignificant in large-scale tests, such as the Programme for InternationalStudent Assessment (PISA). The situation in China has not yet been studied. The recent PISAreport lists China B-S-J-G (representing Beijing–Shanghai–Jiangsu–Guangdong) as an edu-cational system with no significant gender difference in mathematical achievement. Based on asecondary analysis of PISA 2015 mathematics data from China B-S-J-G, this study moredeeply scrutinized gender differences in Chinese students’mathematical performance, empha-sizing societal factors, namely students’socioeconomic status, school level, school type,school location, and socioeconomic status at school level. This analysis revealed importantdifferences within the overall picture. Most importantly, significantly more boys than girlsscored in the top tier of mathematics achievement. At the lower- and upper-secondary schoollevels, boys performed significantly better than girls, with the achievement difference increas-ing at the upper-secondary level. Furthermore, this study found that, on average, Chinese (B-S-J-G) girls achieved significantly lower average scores on the PISA 2015 mathematics test thanboys in the same school. Overall, students’individual characteristics and school characteristicsneed to be separated and both taken into account to examine the role of gender in mathematicalachievement, which has not been thoroughly investigated in the past.


Institute for Learning Sciences and Teacher Education

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Journal Article

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