Academic Performance and Gender: Perceived Causes and Potential Consequences
Natasha Quadlin

About the research


NAEd/Spencer Dissertation Fellowship

Award Year



Indiana University

Primary Discipline

Student academic performance (e.g., grades, test scores, teacher assessments) matters a great deal within schools. Outside of educational contexts, however, academic performance has more ambiguous meaning and implications—both of which are intertwined with gender. Because gender influences the way people think about and evaluate measures of academic performance, scholars must consider how gender shapes the role of academic performance in society. To that end, this dissertation is comprised of three interrelated studies that share a core focus on gender and the social meaning and consequences of student achievement. These studies draw on multiple original experimental data sources, including an experimental telephone survey, online survey experiments, and an online audit experiment. The first study examines how Americans attribute the root cause of academic performance for boys and girls, including how academic performance is conceptualized in relation to intelligence. The second study considers the consequences of academic performance and gender in the family. I analyze how sibling differences in achievement and gender shape Americans’ ideas about how parents should allocate educational resources, such as homework help and college savings. The third study investigates the labor market consequences of academic performance and gender. I combine data from an audit experiment and related survey experiment to understand how and why employers evaluate college achievement for men and women. Collectively, this dissertation shows how gender affects the way people think about, interpret, and act upon student academic performance, while also demonstrating the versatility of experimental designs for education research.
About Natasha Quadlin
Natasha Quadlin is a PhD candidate in the Department of Sociology at Indiana University. Her research focuses on social inequalities in access and returns to education. In her dissertation, Natasha uses experimental methods and surveys to assess how gender shapes the evaluation of student academic performance, and how these evaluations matter outside of schools. Other projects have examined inequalities in higher education (Social Forces, Gender & Society) and intersections between schools and families (Social Science Research). Her work has been funded by an NSF Graduate Research Fellowship and Dissertation Improvement Grant, as well as grants from the NLSY97 Postsecondary Research Network and Time-Sharing Experiments for the Social Sciences. Natasha earned a BS in social policy from Northwestern University and Master’s degrees in sociology and applied statistics from Indiana University.

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