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Ongoing project

Determined to succeed? Maturation, Motivation and Gender Gaps in Educational Achievement

Project period January 2019 - December 2022
Project employer Norges forskningsråd
Project nr. 10295
Project leader Liza Reisel
boy and girl in school environment


Project Background

In Norway and most industrialized countries, girls get better school grades than boys. As they grow older, young women outperform young men in terms of grades and graduation in upper secondary education, as well as enrollment in, and graduation from, higher education. Currently, about 60 per cent of the students at most Norwegian universities are women.

Project Aim

The project aims to further our understanding of why boys may be lagging behind girls, or, in other words, why girls seem to be doing consistently better than boys in school. The project combines insights from various disciplines: sociology, economics, political science and medical science. We study two possible mechanisms – differences in maturity, and differences in motivation – and investigate how these interact with the school system, the labor market and student characteristics. We also study how gender differences in education has changed over time, as well as how the policy debates on the topic have developed over time.

Project Plan

The project consists of three main parts:

1. The Maturation Channel

In Part I, the maturation channel, we study to what extent the timing of maturation for girls and boys can help explain the gender achievement gap in education. We also analyze the interplay between the gender difference in maturity and educational tracking, as well as potential consequences of these gender differences for later education and labor market outcomes.

2. The Motivational Channel

In Part II, the motivation channel, we study education as investment, using cross-national data on academic performance and labor market outcomes. We study to what extent the gender gap in educational achievement can be explained by systematic variation in the value of good grades in gender segregated labor markets.

3. Historical Development: Differences and Policy Debates

Finally, Part III investigates the national and international policy debates about the gender gap in education, as well as the historical development of the phenomenon over the course of the 20th century, so that we can better understand the problem we are attempting to solve.

The project is also part of CORE – Centre for Research on Gender Equality at the Institute for Social Research.


ParticipantDegree PhoneE-mail
Sara Cools Senior Research Fellow PhD +47 984 96 736
Cathrine Holst Professor Ph.d. +47 22 85 88 89
Liza Reisel Research Director, Equality, inclusion, migration PhD +47 975 71 460
Marianne Røed Research Professor Dr. polit. +47 480 39 594
Pål Schøne Research Director, Work and Welfare PhD +47 986 22 125
Mari Teigen Research professor, Director CORE – Centre for Research on Gender Equality Dr. polit. +47 482 07 137
Kjersti Misje Østbakken Senior Research Fellow PhD +47 991 62 556
Camilla Stoltenberg (Folkehelseinstituttet)
Per Magnus (Folkehelseinstituttet)
Andreas Kotsadam (Frischsenteret)
Jørgen Modalsli (Statistisk sentralbyrå)
Paul Attewell (City University of New York)
Atika Khurana (University of Oregon)


  •  (2019). Hvorfor så få mannlige barneskolelærere? Her og Nå.

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Tags: Working Life, Gender Equality
Published May 18, 2018 2:54 PM - Last modified July 2, 2018 2:49 PM