Male Teachers Get More Donations Than Female Teachers. Why? - Data for Education
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Male Teachers Get More Donations Than Female Teachers. Why?

Male Teachers Get More Donations Than Female Teachers. Why?

Guest post: Greg Laughlin is CEO of Statwing, an easy-to-use data analysis tool.

Male teachers fundraise on DonorsChoose more successfully than female teachers. The effect isn’t huge, but it’s there. We wanted to figure out why.

Take a look at the differences:

On average, male teachers attract more donors that female teachers. Click the image to see these results in Statwing, along with statistical results.

See these results in Statwing, along with statistical results.

Projects with male teachers are more likely to be successful. Click the image to see these results in Statwing, along with statistical results.

See these results in Statwing, along with statistical results.

Why is this?

First, we looked for variables that correlated with both gender and project success, which could be confounding variables. For a given variable, the bar height in this chart indicates how tightly related it was to gender or project success; the most interesting variables to explore are the ones that are highly correlated with both.

Effect sizes

Projects from charter, magnet, and KIPP schools, and projects from Teach for America teachers tend to be more successful regardless of gender, and happen to have more male teachers, so we filtered them out of the data to eliminate that confounding effect.

Just removing the effect of those variables eliminated more than half of the difference between men and women‒now men’s projects are only 1.3 percentage points more successful than women’s, instead of 2.9.

Projects with male teachers are still more likely to be successful, but the gap has narrowed. Click the image to see these results in Statwing, along with statistical results.

See these results in Statwing, along with statistical results.

So, half of the mystery is solved: men are more likely to teach at charter, magnet, and KIPP schools, or be Teach for America teachers, and teachers of either gender tend to do better when they’re in those situations.

We then controlled, one-by-one, for the other variables that were correlated with both gender and project success. For example, men are much more likely to create projects asking for new technology. But technology projects actually tend to be less successful than other projects, so we ruled that out as a driver of the gender difference.

Next, we looked at the time of year. We noticed that projects in the fall tended to be more successful, and were more likely than typical to be run by men.

Some caption


Explore this visualization in Statwing
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But controlling for time of year didn’t eliminate the difference between men and women. Nor did controlling for the grade of the teacher—at every grade level, men are slightly more successful than women.

Lastly, we explored differences by county. First off, counties have very different success rates:

Different counties have very different rates of success.

Different counties have very different rates of success. In some locations barely half of projects are successful, while in others 80%+ projects go well.

The key then was to isolate the data by county, so we could then ask, “Is there still a consistent edge for men over women across different counties?” Take a look:

Quite a few of these differences were statistically significant. There’s no longer a clear trend, no clear separation between men and women. Each county is different. It turns out that county-by-county, men are no more successful than women. But it just happens that teachers are more often men in the counties that tend to have higher success rates, which explains why it looked like men were more successful generally.

It's hard to tell, but there's a slight positive correlation here (rho = .47, p-value < 0.00001)

It’s hard to tell, but there’s a positive correlation here (rho = .47, p-value < 0.00001, for the statistically inclined)

Mystery solved! All else being equal, teacher gender doesn’t impact number of donations, male teachers just happen to teach in places that tend to have more successful projects. Phew. Go about your day knowing that one less thing in the world isn’t unintentionally sexist.

There are a lot of other things to explore in this dataset. Which types of projects tend to be more successful? Are projects more successful in rural locations or urban locations? Are projects on average getting more or less successful over time?

Explore the dataset to answer those questions, and to ask your own.

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