Girls Are Just Bad at Math?

February 23, 2015

If we wanted to create a study showing that school-age girls do not suffer from systemic, negative gender bias, a purportedly objective subject (like math) might be an ideal choice. To further reduce the likelihood of a gender bias surfacing against girls, it would surely help us to deploy an all-female team of teachers to assess the children’s performance in that subject. Unfortunately, when two researchers created just such a study, they discovered that neither mathematics nor female teachers were enough to overcome or conceal subconscious gender bias against girls.

Today’s link features a brief assessment of the paper published by Edith Sand and Victor Lavy, which demonstrated that adults’ beliefs about students’ performance directly influences how those students are graded, even in subjects where objectively right or wrong answers are the standard.

Gender bias is not merely an issue of women being underrepresented in STEM fields (science, technology,engineering and math). The problem is much more systematic. It starts long before picking a major in college, and it is aggravated by the subconscious beliefs of educators. Worse still, it seems that the negative beliefs of teachers are absorbed by our girls themselves.

This needs to change.

Read Amanda Marcotte’s Slate article on the study from Edith Sand and Victor Lavy here.

 

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