Male teachers do not bring out the best in boys, a study of 9,000 11-year-olds has revealed.
A teacher's gender has no impact on the attainment of children or their attitudes to specific lessons, the first research of its kind using British data shows.
But children taught by a woman had more positive attitudes to school generally. Policy-makers advocating recruiting more men to the classroom should take note, researchers say.
The study, by Durham university's curriculum evaluation and management (CEM) centre and Newcastle university, was unveiled at the European Association for Research on Learning and Instruction conference in Cyprus.
Professor Peter Tymms, director of the CEM centre, said it challenged claims that matching teachers and pupils by gender improved children's attitudes.
"There has been a view that we are in a crisis with boys' performance because we have not got men teaching them," he told The TES. "We're not saying that we couldn't do with more male teachers - but we're saying that it's not going to impact on boys' performance and attitude."
The study used the 19978 Performance Indicators in Primary Schools (PIPS) project which gave 413 classes of 10 and 11 year-olds tests in reading, maths and science and issued questionnaires measuring attitude to school.
Only 15 per cent of primary teachers are male and men made up just 13 per cent of those beginning primary training last year.