July 2022

IZA DP No. 15456: COVID-19 and the Gender Gap in University Student Performance

Massimiliano Bratti, Enrico Lippo

The gendered impact of the COVID-19 pandemic has been observed in many domains, such as labor market outcomes and mental health. One sector that was particularly disrupted by the pandemic was education, owing to the need to close educational institutions and move all learning activities online. In this paper, we investigate the gender gap in university student performance, focusing on a large public university located in one of the European regions most affected by the first pandemic wave (Lombardy, in Northern Italy). Despite concerns that the pandemic might have had a heavier toll on the educational performance of female students, our empirical analysis shows that the gender gap in student progression (number of credits earned) was not affected by the pandemic and that in some college majors (social sciences and humanities) women even improved their GPA relative to men.