Gender Disparities in Early Childhood Learning Opportunities and Development in Low- and Middle-Income Countries
Catalina Rey-Guerra

About the research


NAEd/Spencer Dissertation Fellowship

Award Year



Boston College

Primary Discipline

Human Development
Theoretical rationale and empirical evidence suggests that gender differences in learning and academic outcomes might emerge early in life, even before children start formal schooling. From very early on, children are often exposed to gender-differentiated treatment and opportunities due to caregiver?s gendered expectations and cultural norms. As children?s brains have evolved to detect the subtlest nuances in their environments, even small gender differences in learning experiences could have lasting consequences in their developmental trajectories. Given these lasting consequences for individuals and societies, understanding gender disparities in early learning opportunities is critical to catalyzing young children?s positive academic and learning trajectories from early on. However, most existing evidence comes from high-income countries, and it is unclear to what extent these findings can be generalized to low- and- middle-income countries (LMICs), where about 90% of the world?s children live. To address these limitations, I am conducting three integrated studies to (1) examine global patterns of gender similarities and differences in early learning and development across 71 geographically-, economically-, and culturally diverse LMICs, (2) explore the role of parenting and early learning activities at home in explaining gender disparities in early learning and development outcomes using longitudinal studies from LMICs, and (3) co-design with families, participatory workshops to document their experiences of and making meaning about gender-related variations in parenting practices and young children?s early learning opportunities in Colombia. Collectively, these studies will inform global policy and practice to reduce gender disparities in early learning opportunities and promote young girls? and boys? learning and development worldwide.
About Catalina Rey-Guerra
Catalina Rey-Guerra is a Ph.D. candidate in Applied Developmental and Educational Psychology at Boston College. Catalina received a M.S. in Public Policy and Economics at Universidad de los Andes in Colombia and a M.S. in Human Development at Boston College. Her research examines gender disparities in early learning opportunities and pre-academic skills of young children living in low- and- middle-income countries (LMICs). Using multiple frameworks and analytical methods from education, developmental psychology, and gender studies, she seeks to explore mechanisms that underlie gender disparities in early learning experiences and conduct community-based participatory research to design and implement evidence-based and culturally situated innovations to reduce gender-related disparities in education. Prior to pursuing a doctoral degree, Catalina was the national project manager and data analysis coordinator for the National Quality Measurement of Early Childhood Education in Colombia. She worked as researcher for the Colombian Institute for the Assessment of Education (ICFES) and the School of Education and the School of Government at Universidad de los Andes. Catalina?s recent work has been published in Child Development, Early Childhood Research Quarterly, and Feminism & Psychology. She is currently fellow of the Institute of Early Childhood Policy at Boston College and co-director of FundaciĆ³n Apapacho in Colombia.

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