- Math + Culture = Gender Gap
- The Role of Parents and Teachers in the Development of Gender-Related Math Attitudes
- What Research Says About Encouraging Girls to Pursue Math and Science
- Culture, Not Biology, Underpins Math Gender Gap
“In the United States, girls at all grade levels now perform on par with boys on the standardized mathematics tests required of all students” (University of Wisconsin-Madison, 2009).
According to the Oregon Department of Education Database for the 2012-2013 school year, Portland school districts have shown that in grades 3 through 8, the percentage of young women who “meet or exceed” mathematical standards is higher than that of young men in grades 5, 6, 7 and 8. In grades 3 and 4, this percentage in young women is less than that of young men by only 0.5%.
The National Science Foundation (NSF) found that women make up 46% of the total workforce but hold only 24% of jobs in technical or STEM fields.
In the past, it was a widely accepted belief that math skills are innate and that boys were more capable then females in their mathematical endeavors. This belief was supported by the fact that a noticeable gender disparity did exist in mathematical performance between young men and women. However, this gender gap has closed in recent years but “gender differences persist in the number of students who take advanced math courses and who pursue math related careers” (Gunderson, Ramirez, Levine, and Beilock, 2011). Consequently, women are still underrepresented in STEM fields.
Think about your experience as a child learning new math concepts.
- Have you had experience with gender-dependent performance expectations?
- As a female, did you ever feel like your parents or teachers had lower expectations in your math performance?
- As a male, did you ever experience more pressure to succeed and to “have a knack for it”? For everyone: If you do have a passion for mathematics or feel like you have excelled in STEM subjects, what do you think contributed to this interest?
Some believe that attitude plays a role in math performance.
- What would you say to someone who argued that these attitudes, which include math anxiety, math-self concepts, and expectations for success or failure in mathematics, can be influenced by parents, teachers or other students
- What do you think we can do to encourage young women to take advanced mathematics and prepare themselves to pursue STEM careers?
What can you do to help women in STEM?
- Give your support to the American Association of University Women (AAUW): “The nation’s leading voice promoting equity and education for women and girls”. http://www.aauwpdx.org/
- Work to understand your own anxieties by educating yourself in Mathematics! https://www.khanacademy.org/
- • Set up a STEM club or join an existing one to learn more!
- • Donate to the Edge (Enhancing Diversity in Graduate Education) Program at http://www.edgeforwomen.org/