Teacher gender and the gender gap in education

Project Active from to State and State Effectiveness

Mozambique is characterised by low levels of education and a significant gender gap in education. The literacy rate among the 15 to 24-year-olds is only 71%. Within this age group, the literacy gap between men and women amounts to 16 percentage points (UIS 2015).

Anecdotal evidence suggests that the lack of female teachers, especially in rural areas, is an important driver of this gender gap in education. Recent empirical evidence is in line with this hypothesis: it suggests that teachers have an especially large effect on the achievement of pupils with whom they share certain characteristics, such as race (Gershenson et al., 2018) or gender (Muralidharan and Sheth 2015). This project aims to assess the importance of this nexus in Mozambique by documenting the spatial distribution of the teacher gender ratio and examining its relationship with the gender gap in education.

The analysis will be carried out thusly:

  • First, examine the spatial distribution of the teacher gender ratio and assess to what extent rural areas are characterised by a lack of female teachers.
  • Second, estimate the relationship between education gender gaps and teacher gender ratios in the cross-section as well as within schools over time.
  • Third, investigate heterogeneity in the relationship between the teacher gender ratio and the education gender gap to provide suggestive evidence of underlying mechanisms.

For example, if the lack of role models is a driving force behind the education gender gap, the correlation would not only be expected between the gender gap and the lack of female teachers but also with the lack of other female role models. Hence, stronger correlation would be expected between the lack of female teachers and the gender gap in rural areas - where other female role models are likely scarce.

Finally, the implications of the study’s findings for government teacher recruitment and deployment policies will be discussed.