Gender differences in variability and extreme scores in an international context
This study examines gender differences in the variability of student performance in reading, mathematics and science. Twelve databases from IEA and PISA were used to analyze gender differences within an international perspective from 1995 to 2015. Effect sizes and variance ratios were computed. The main results are as follows. (1) Gender differences vary by content area, students' educational levels, and students’ proficiency levels. The gender differences at the extreme tails of the distribution are often more substantial than the gender differences at the mean. (2) Exploring the extreme tails of the distributions shows that the situation of the weakest males in reading is a real matter of concern. In mathematics and science, males are more frequently among the highest performing students. (3) The “greater male variability hypothesis” is confirmed.