Gender differences in mathematics outcomes at different levels of locality to inform policy and practice

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This paper reports research into the relationship between personal and contextual variables and gendered differences in students’ attainment in mathematics that take account of ‘place’ at different levels of intra-national locality (i.e. regional and macro-geographical levels, within the same country). A multilevel analysis performed on secondary data collected in Italy, where on average boys outperform girls in mathematics, showed that gender differences at local levels are complex and nuanced and not always consistent with the national picture. Moreover, gender differences in mathematics are associated with socio-cultural and economic factors that vary by region. We argue that educational research focusing on national and international level findings (such as for example PISA) should explore the association between gender differences in mathematics and sub-national socio-cultural and economic contexts in order to adequately inform policy and practice. Finally, we suggest that European researchers of inequality may need to attend to regionality and localities of place, and that the principle of subsidiarity could imply that policy and practice be devolved to the levels that research proves to be relevant.

Original languageEnglish
JournalEuropean Education Research Journal
Publication statusPublished - 10 Mar 2021


  • Gender
  • differences
  • locality
  • mathematics
  • multilevel modelling
  • place
  • region


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