Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Are boys better at math than girls...Revisited

A little while back, I posted about the myth that boys are better at math than girls (here).  The only data to support such a claim comes from examining standardized test scores.  HOWEVER, it has been shown that girls who are aware of the stereotype succumb to a self-fulfilling prophecy and score worse on math tests than boys, but they also score worse than girls who are unaware of the negative stereotype, who don't score worse than boys.  A new study out in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences has replicated these findings, and added an interesting note, in that, it seems some of girls' anxiety about math (and math tests) is coming from their female math teachers.  This appears to add to the idea that girls need confident female mathematician role models (and take it one step further by suggesting that having a female role model who lacks confidence in her math skills may be just as bad as not having a role model at all). (Of course, if this myth weren't so pervasive, there would probably be less anxious female math teachers... just a thought.)

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