"It is not an issue of discrimination but of unconscious discouragement," said researcher Edith Sand, an economist at the Bank of Israel.

"This discouragement, however, has implications. The track to computer science and engineering fields, which report some of the highest salaries, tapers off in elementary school," Sand rued.

The research was carried out on three groups of students in Israel from sixth grade through the end of high school.

The students were given two exams, the first graded by objective scorers who did not know their names and the second by instructors who did know them.

In maths, the girls outscored the boys in the test that was scored anonymously, but when graded by teachers who were familiar with their names, the boys outscored the girls.

"The boys who had been encouraged when they were younger performed significantly better than their female counterparts, though the latter had objectively scored higher at a younger age," Sand explained.

The researchers also found that the girls who had been discouraged by their elementary school teachers were much less likely than the boys to opt for advanced courses.

"Teachers play a critical role in lowering and raising the confidence levels of their students, which has serious implications for their futures," Sand concluded.

The study was published by the National Bureau of Economic Research.

Latest News from Lifestyle News Desk