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Thoroughness and time constraints: Can test-taking behavior explain the gender differences in performance at high-stakes tests?

Tuesday, October 4, 2022 - 9:00am to 10:15am
Fall 2022
Lemann Center Conference Room

Speaker: Ana Trindade Ribeiro, PhD Candidate, Stanford University

From a young age and well into adulthood, men and women must face several standardized tests that help determine where they go to school, what subjects they study, whether they start or complete a degree, and if they will be considered for a job offer. Although these high-stakes tests are considered objective and unbiased, gender differences in performance have been widely documented across many years and countries, consistently showing women to be underrepresented at the top of the performance distribution, where the best opportunities are granted. This paper uses an experimental approach to measure gender differences in thoroughness in the test-taking environment, a behavior more often associated with women than men and not optimal under time scarcity. By varying the time limit condition, this experiment investigates to what extent test-taking behaviors related to time use and thoroughness can explain the gender gap in performance.