Math Ability/Performance Abstracts
Commentary on women in math
Comments on the now famous Benbow-Stanley report in Science magazine on
sex differences in mathematical ability.
B. Bridgeman, C. Wendler, J. R. Levin (editor), Gender Differences in Predictors of College Mathematics Performance and in College Mathematics Course Grades
Grades of men and women in 1st-year mathematics courses were obtained from a sample of 9 universities. In addition, placement test scores were available from 4 of the institutions. This information was combined with Scholastic Aptitude Test (SAT) scores and self-reported information on mathematics courses taken in high school, grades in those courses, and overall high school grade point average. College courses were divided into three categories (algebra, precalculus, and calculus). Within a given college mathematics course, the average grades of women were about equal to or slightly higher than men's average grades, but men's average scores on the mathematical scale of the SAT were above women's average scores by a third of a standard deviation or more.
L. Burton, Gender and Mathematics: An International
This book is the outcome of the Women and Mathematics Topic Area at the
6th International Congress on Mathematics Education held in Budapest,
Hungary, in 1988.
V. I. Cherian, Gender, socioeconomic status, and
mathematics achievement by Xhosa children
A study of gender and socioeconomic status differences in mathematics
achievement revealed that girls from low socioeconomic status performed
better than boys belonging to their economic class, whereas boys
belonging to middle or high socioeconomic status performed better than
girls. This was because girls from low socioeconomic status have to do
household chores and they are trained to be a wife, a housekeeper and
mother. Boys belonging to low socioeconomic status travel a lot, as a
result of which they experience fatigue and are not able study.
I. Cherney, A League of Their Own: Do Single-Sex Schools Increase Girls’ Participation in the Physical Sciences
From the paper: “With the rapid shifts in the education of women in the United States, and the underrepresentation of women in fields of science, technology, engineering, and math(STEM), an issue generating much controversy is whether women may benefit more from single-sex education or coeducation. The present study surveyed 548 U.S. high-school boys and girls from single-sex and coeducational high-schools from the Midwest. Half of the participants completed a mathematics test under stereotype threat (ST) condition and half under no threat condition. Although girls in single-sex schools had higher achievement motive and self-esteem than those in coeducational schools, they were not more likely to pursue STEM careers. Overall, students in single-sex schools outperformed students from coeducational schools on the math test. Girls’ math performance was significantly higher in the ST condition than in the no threat condition”
S. F. Chipman, D. H. Krantz, and R. Silver, Mathematics
anxiety and science careers among able college women
A study was conducted in a women's college to determine if there exists a
correlation between women's attitude towards math and their choice of
career. A questionnaire which consisted of career interest questions and
math attitude items was administered to incoming freshmen batches in
1985, 1986 and 1987. Results showed a high correlation between math
confidence and choice of a physical science career. On the other hand,
previous knowledge in math proved to be insignificant. These results
point to the importance of cultivating positive attitudes towards
J. Ernest, Mathematics and Sex
Report of an undergraduate research seminar at the University of
California at Santa Barbara
R. B. Felson and L. Trudeau, Gender differences in
Includes: Typical sex difference socialization model for performance in
mathematics. (chart); Items from parents', children's questionnaire,
lambda model coefficients. (table); Sex differences in performance,
grades 5-8. (table); Model representing the effects of sex on math
anxiety. (chart); Structural coefficients of gender effects on parents,
children, teachers. (table); Enrollment in various high school courses,
1986-87. (table); Gender differences in high school performance. (table)
B. Grevholm and G. Hanna, Gender and Mathematics
Education, an ICMI Study in Stiftsgardern, Akersberg, Hoor, Sweden
A collection of papers by internationally known scholars on fundamental
themes in the area.
L. Guiso et. al. Culture, Gender, and Math.
This article explores the so-called gender gap in math across
different countries and shows how the gap differs widely from country
to country and is tied to a low "women
emancipation" indicator. The online summary is very
E. A. Gunderson, G. Ramirez, S. C. Levine, S. L. Beilock, The Role of Parents and Teachers in the Development of Gender-Related Math Attitudes
From the article: Girls tend to have more negative math attitudes, including gender stereotypes, anxieties, and self-concepts, than boys. These attitudes play a critical role in math performance, math course-taking, and the pursuit of math-related career paths. We review existing research, primarily from U.S. samples, showing that parents’ and teachers’ expectancies for children’s math competence are often gender-biased and can influence children’s math attitudes and performance. We then propose three new directions for future research on the social transmission of gender-related math attitudes. First, parents’ and teachers’ own math anxieties and their beliefs about whether math ability is a stable trait may prove to be significant influences on children’s math attitudes. Second, a developmental perspective that investigates math attitudes at younger ages and in relation to other aspects of gender development, such as gender rigidity, may yield new insights into the development of math attitudes. Third, investigating the specific behaviors and mannerisms that form the causal links between parents’ and teachers’ beliefs and children’s math attitudes may lead to effective interventions to improve children’s math attitudes from a young age. Such work will not only further our understanding of the relations between attitudes and performance, but will lead to the development of practical interventions for the home and classroom that ensure that all students are provided with opportunities to excel in math.
J. Gutbezahl, How negative expectancies and attitudes
undermine females' math confidence and performance: a review of the
This preprint is a literature review on how negative expectancies and
attitudes undermine females' math confidence and performance. Contains a
long list of references.
P. Huguet and I. Régner, Counter-stereotypic beliefs in math do not protect school girls from stereotype threat
From the article:The threat of being negatively stereotyped in math impairs performance of highly qualified females on
difficult math tests, a phenomenon known as “stereotype threat” −ST. Perhaps more alarmingly, recent
studies based on unselective samples of elementary-, middle-, and high-school students show that ST
also operates in girls from the general population. Here we offer first evidence that ST does operate (with
large effect sizes) even in middle-school girls who deny the negative gender stereotype. Children’s beliefs
about the two genders math ability, therefore, do not necessarily moderate their susceptibility to ST, an
important issue that remained unclear so far. This new finding is also of great practical significance:
School girls’ counter-stereotypic beliefs cannot be taken as sufficient evidence for deciding whether
the struggle against ST is or is not needed. Appropriate interventions should be the default option when
aiming for true gender equality in math and science achievements.
J. S. Hyde, E. Fennema, and S. J. Lamon, Gender
differences in mathematics performance: a meta-analysis
Includes: Studies of gender differences in mathematics performance.
(table); Magnitude of gender differences as a function of: age, cognitive
level. (table); Magnitude of gender differences as a function of
mathematics content. (table); Magnitude of gender differences as a
function of selectivity of sample. (table); Approximate magnitude of
gender differences in mathematics performance. (graph); Magnitude of
gender differences as a function of ethnicity. (table)
J. S. Hyde, S. M. Lindberg, M. C. Linn, A. B. Ellis, C. C. Williams;
Gender similarities characterize math performance
This report is based on data from 10 states on the cognitive
performance of students in grades 2 -
11. The data shows only trivial differences in math due to
gender and this is true even in the high school years.
J. S. Hyde, E. Fennema, M. Ryan, L. A. Frost, and C.
Hopp, Gender comparisons of mathematics attitudes and affect: a
This is a report on the authors' meta-analyses on the effects of gender
differences in attitudes on mathematics performance. On the whole, effect
sizes were small. Some differences in attitudes were observed and the
differences seemed to increase with the age of the students. Includes:
Gender differences on scales of math attitudes/affect as function of age.
(table); Magnitude of gender differences on other scales of math
attitudes/affect. (table); Gender differences in mathematics
attitudes/affect, combining scales. (table); Gender differences in
mathematics anxiety as function of selectivity. (table); Studies of
gender differences in mathematics attitudes and affect. (table)
J. E. Jacobs, Influence of gender stereotypes on parent
and child mathematics attitudes
The author tests the hypothesis that the gender stereotypes about
mathematical ability of parents influence their perception of their
child's mathematical ability and chances of future mathematical successes
and thereby influence the child's self-perceptions and performance in
B. Kurtz-Costes, S. Rowley, A. Harris-Britt, T. Woods, Gender Stereotypes about Mathematics and Science and Self-Perceptions of Ability in Late Childhood and Early Adolescence
From the article: A model linking children's perceptions of adults' gender stereotypes about mathematics and science ability, children's stereotypes, and children's perceptions of their own mathematics and science competence was tested in 302 fourth, sixth, and eighth graders. When boys believed that adults hold more traditional stereotypes, they tended to hold corresponding beliefs that girls are relatively less capable or that boys are more capable in mathematics and science. These groups competence ratings, in turn, were related to self-perceptions of avidity for sixth- and eight-grade boys. In contrast, paths paths were nonsignificant for girls. The results provided support for both social status theory and experiential theory. We discuss implication regarding the influence of stereotypes on motivation and identity development.
E. Kwiatkowski, R. Dammer, J. K. Mills, and C.-S.
Jih, Gender differences in attitudes toward mathematics among
undergraduate college students: the role of environmental variables
This study examined gender differences in attitudes and perceptions toward
mathematics among 132 undergraduates. Men showed more interest and
likelihood to enroll in mathematics courses. The findings suggest that men
have more positive attitudes and perceptions toward mathematics than women.
L. Lafortune, Femmes et Mathématique
Collection of papers presented at a conference organized by MOIFEM
(Mouvement international pour les femmes et l'enseignment de la
mathématique) in Montreal, June 6-7, 1986.
G. Lappan, L. H. Reyes, and G. M. A. Stanic, Gender and
race equity in primary and middle school mathematics classrooms
S. M. Lindberg, J. S. Hyde, J. L. Petersen, M. Linn, News trends in gender and mathematics performance:A meta-analysis
Discrimination in education --Analysis
Hispanic American students --Testing
Educational tests and measurements --Social aspects
African American students --Testing
Mathematics --Study and teaching
Minority students --Testing
In this article, the authors use meta-analysis to analyze gender differences in recent studies of mathematics performance. First, they meta-analyzed data from 242 studies published between 1990 and 2007, representing the testing of 1,286,350 people. Overall, d = 0.05, indicating no gender difference, and variance ratio = 1.08, indicating nearly equal male and female variances. Second, they analyzed data from large data sets based on probability sampling of U.S. adolescents over the past 20 years: the National Longitudinal Surveys of Youth, the National Education Longitudinal Study of 1988, the Longitudinal Study of American Youth, and the National Assessment of Educational Progress. Effect sizes for the gender difference ranged between −0.15 and +0.22. Variance ratios ranged from 0.88 to 1.34. Taken together, these findings support the view that males and females perform similarly in mathematics.
D. Martinot and M. Désert, Awareness of a gender stereotype, personal beliefs and self-perceptions regarding math ability: when boys do not surpass girls
From the article: The negative reputation of women in mathematics and its consequences on their self-perceptions have been extensively demonstrated. However, in France and other countries, the younger the students, the less pronounced these gender differences are. The focus of this study was to explore whether children of two age groups (fourth graders and seventh graders) are aware of a math-ability gender stereotype favorable to boys, and to determine their personal beliefs on mathematics ability. The link between this gender stereotype and self-perceptions was also examined. As expected, there was not a clear-cut awareness of a math-ability gender stereotype favorable to boys. More surprising, girls in both age groups and seventh-grade boys believed that girls do better than boys. Moreover, when their gender identity was made salient, the boys who believed in girl superiority perceived their own performance in mathematics as lower. The girls, on the other hand, regardless of their age and stereotype awareness or personal beliefs, perceived their performance in math as higher when their gender identity was made salient than when it was not.
M. McCaslin, D. Tuck, A. Wiard, B. Brown, J. LaPage, and J.
Pyle, Gender composition and small-group learning in fourth-grade
This is a study on the effect of small group learning experiences in
L. D. Miller, C. E. Mitchell, and M. V.
Ausdall, Evaluating achievement in mathematics: exploring the gender
biases of timed testing
The study investigates the effect of time limits on SAT-type practice
O. Neuschmidt*, J. Barth, and D. Hastedt, Trends in gender differences in mathematics and science (TIMSS 1995 - 2003)
From the paper: This article investigates changes in gender differences evident in the performance of grade 8th grade
students participating in the Trends in International Mathematics and Science Study (TIMSS) between
1995 and 2003. Gender specific results and patterns found in TIMSS 1995 were compared with later
cycles of the study in order to address the question of how far the mathematics and science gender gap
has narrowed over time. Using a regression approach to compare the trend data, the findings indicated no
major changes for mathematics but it appears that the gap in science may be closing, especially in the
previously male dominated content areas of chemistry and physics.
P. Noack and M. Steffens, On the leaky math pipeline: Comparing implicit math-gender stereotypes and math withdrawal in female and male children and adolescents
From the article: Many models assume that habitual human behavior is rather guided by spontaneous, automatic, or implicit processes than by deliberate, rule-based, or explicit processes. Thus, math ability self-concepts and math performance could be related to implicit math-gender stereotypes, in addition to explicit stereotypes. Two studies assessed at what age implicit math-gender stereotyping can be observed and what the relations between these stereotypes and math-related outcomes are in children and adolescents. Implicit math-gender stereotypes could be detected with Implicit Association Tests (IATs) already among 9-year-old girls. Adolescent girls showed stronger implicit gender stereotypes than adolescent boys, who, on average, did not reveal implicit gender-stereotypic associations. Girls also showed an implicit affinity to language versus math already at the age of 9. In a regression analysis, implicit math-gender stereotypes predicted academic self-concepts, academic achievement, and enrollment preferences above and beyond explicit math-gender stereotypes for girls, but (with the exception of achievement) not for boys. These findings suggest implicit gender stereotypes are an important factor in the dropout of females from math-intensive fields.
P. Olszewski-Kubilius and D. Turner, Gender differences among elementary school-aged gifted students in achievement, perceptions of ability, and subject preference
Previous research suggests that, while gender differences on standardized tests among high school-aged students have diminished, they persist among academically gifted students. This study examined patterns of gender differences for younger, elementary school-aged gifted students. Results showed that, on an off-level achievement test, males outperformed females in mathematics beginning in grade 3, although effect sizes were small. The ratio of males to females achieving very high scores on the mathematics subtest was 2:1, but this difference was only significant among 5th and 6th graders. Both males and females had a preference for mathematics over other subjects. More girls perceived their academic strengths to be in verbal areas, while most boys perceived theirs to be in mathematics and science. Girls' and boys' perceptions of their academic strengths corresponded to their actual performance on the off-level test. Tested abilities also corresponded to students' choice of easiest and most challenging subject.
M. Perry, A. Ryan, C. M. Ganley, L. A. Mingle, K. Ryan, M. Vasilyeva, An Examination of Stereotype Threat Effects on Girls’ Mathematics Performance
Abstract from the article: “ Stereotype threat has been proposed as 1 potential explanation for the gender difference in standardized mathematics test performance among high-performing students. At present, it is not entirely clear how susceptibility to stereotype threat develops, as empirical evidence for stereotype threat effects across the school years is inconsistent. In a series of 3 studies, with a total sample of 931 students, we investigated stereotype threat effects during childhood and adolescence. Three activation methods were used, ranging from implicit to explicit. Across studies, we found no evidence that the mathematics performance of school-age girls was impacted by stereotype threat. In 2 of the studies, there were gender differences on the mathematics assessment regardless of whether stereotype threat was activated. Potential reasons for these findings are discussed, including the possibility that stereotype threat effects only occur in very specific circumstances or that they are in fact occurring all the time. We also address the possibility that the literature regarding stereotype threat in children is subject to publication bias.”
J. F. Rech, A comparison of the mathematics attitudes of
black students according to grade level, gender, and academic achievement
The attitudes of a group of elementary and junior high school Black
students toward mathematics are examined and compared by grade level,
gender and degree of academic success. Higher-achieving eighth-grade
Black students have poorer mathematics attitudes than the other groups,
specifically on perception of teacher, anxiety toward math and enjoyment
of the subject. Educators and parents should develop interest in
mathematics among Black students. They should be shown the importance of
a strong mathematics education.
S. M. Reis and S. Park, Gender differences in high-achieving students in math and science
The research described in this article examined gender differences between high-achieving students in math and science with respect to their achievement, self-concept, locus of control, number of math and science courses taken, and the important people who contributed to their decisions to enroll in advanced courses in high school. The study utilized data from the National Education Longitudinal Study of 1988 (NELS: 88; National Center for Education Statistics, 1994), with two subsamples selected that represent the highest achieving students in math and in science. The results of this study indicated that there were more males than females in both subsamples of high-achieving students in math and science. The results also suggested that the best predictor for distinguishing between mathematically high-achieving males and females was locus of control. High-achieving males had both higher self-concept and higher standardized math test scores than high-achieving females.
P. Rogers, Thoughts on power and pedagogy
A discussion of the successful bachelor's program in mathematics at SUNY
College at Potsdam.
E. S. Spelke, Sex differences in intrinsic aptitude for mathematics and
science: A critical review
This article considers 3 claims that cognitive sex differences
account for the differential representation of men
and women in high-level careers in mathematics and science:
(a) males are more focused on objects from the
beginning of life and therefore are predisposed to better
learning about mechanical systems; (b) males have a profile
of spatial and numerical abilities producing greater
aptitude for mathematics; and (c) males are more variable
in their cognitive abilities and therefore predominate at the
upper reaches of mathematical talent. Research on cognitive
development in human infants, preschool children, and
students at all levels fails to support these claims. Instead,
it provides evidence that mathematical and scientific reasoning
develop from a set of biologically based cognitive
capacities that males and females share. These capacities
lead men and women to develop equal talent for mathematics
F. K. Stage and P. Kloosterman, Gender, beliefs, and
achievement in remedial college-level mathematics
A study was conducted in a public research university in the Midwest to
determine the effects of gender, beliefs about mathematics and previous
mathematical skills on achievement in remedial college-level mathematics.
The results showed that among male students, previous mathematical skills
are related to beliefs, but beliefs are not related to final course
grade. Among females, beliefs about mathematics significantly affect the
final course grade.
D. J. Stipek and J. H. Gralinski, Gender differences in
children's achievement-related beliefs and emotional responses to success
and failure in mathematics
Includes: Mean scores for pretest questions, by grade and gender. (table);
Mean attribution scores by outcome and gender. (table); Mean scores for
pride, shame, and desire to hide paper, by grade and gender. (table);
Mean scores for avoidance wishes and expectations for future math tests.
(table); Path analyses. (chart)
M. Taal, How do mathematical experiences contribute to the choice of mathematics
This study examined how mathematical experiences influence Dutch pupils' course enrollment in mathematics. Are gender differences in extracurricular, mathematics-related activities related to achievements in or attitudes towards mathematics, and consequently to differences between girls and boys in the selection of mathematics for their final examination curriculum? In total, 213 Dutch secondary education pupils (i.e., 139 females and 74 males) between the ages of 14 and 15 participated in this study. The frequency of their participation in 60 mathematics-related activities, their intelligence and attitudes toward mathematics were registered. In addition, the achievement grades in mathematics were obtained. The results revealed that extracurricular activities were related to achievement grades rather than to attitudes toward mathematics. Intellectual capacities, achievements, and feelings of adequacy in mathematics, rather than mathematics-related activities, discriminated between the pupils who selected or did not select mathematics for their final examination curriculum. No gender differences could be demonstrated in achievement grades for mathematics, nor in attitudes toward mathematics. These findings suggest that for Dutch secondary education students mathematics-related activities were stimulating, but not decisive for their choice of mathematics in their final examination curriculum.
C. Tomasetto, F. R. Alparone, and M. Cadinu, Girls' Math Performance Under Stereotype Threat: The Moderating Role of Mothers' Gender Stereotypes
From the article: Previous research on stereotype threat in children suggests that making gender identity salient disrupts girls’ math performance at as early as 5 to 7 years of age. The present study (n = 124) tested the hypothesis that parents’ endorsement of gender stereotypes about math moderates girls’ susceptibility to stereotype threat. Results confirmed that stereotype threat impaired girls’ performance on math tasks among students from kindergarten through 2nd grade. Moreover, mothers’ but not fathers’ endorsement of gender stereotypes about math moderated girls’ vulnerability to stereotype threat: Performance of girls whose mothers strongly rejected the gender stereotype about math did not decrease under stereotype threat. These findings are important because they point to the role of mothers’ beliefs in the development of girls’ vulnerability to the negative effects of gender stereotypes about math.
C. A. Wiles, Investigating gender bias in the evaluation
of middle school teachers of mathematics
A study on the influence of the stereotyped belief that 'mathematics is a
male domain' on the biases of middle school mathematics teachers was
conducted. It involved fourth, fifth and sixth grade students working on
the same non-traditional mathematical problems on the hypothesis that
higher ratings will be given to male students. Results of the study were
not conclusive on the existence of teachers' gender biases and suggests
the purposeful scoring of the mathematics exams regardless of gender
J. Xu and E. Farrell, Mathematics performance of Shanghai
high school students: a preliminary look at gender differences in another
A study was conducted to examine whether there are gender differences in
mathematical performance within Asian cultures. The subject of this study
are 147 male and 122 female high school graduating students who took the
China Regents Competency Mathematics Examination (CRCME). Results show
that there are no gender differences in both the prehigh school tests and
the CRCME. Since the results are not conclusive, more extensive
researches are needed on this topic.