Working Toward Gender Equity in Math1. How affective variables play a role in gender equity in math for girls2. Are single gender math classes the answer?
The Data Women make up half of the U.S. workforce butGirls perform lower than represent only 24% ofboys on standardized test STEM related careers. (American Association of Universitymeasures; however, girls Women, 2010)earn higher grades in allsubjects. (Streitmatter, 1997 NAEP reports that male students perform better on On the 2001 SAT, males assessments than female scored 42 points higher students in grades 8 and 12 (McGraw et al., 2006). than female students in which math scores accounted for most of the difference (Groves, 2001).
Affective Variables • Affective variables are feelings, attitudes and perceptions. • Attitudes and perceptions are crucial to studying math education for girls because they are major influences on what math courses a girl chooses when given the option to continue math or not. (Fennema, 1979)
Confidence• There is evidence that math anxiety is slightly higher in women than in men. (Ashcraft, 2002)• This anxiety results in lower mathematical performance in girls. Higher math anxiety and lower self-confidence does not reflect lower math abilities. (Fennema, 1979)
Stereotype Threat Barbie says, “Math class is tough.”• When women believe that math ability is a fixed amount rather than flexible, they are more likely to believe the stereotype that males are better at math. (The American Association of University Women, 2010)
Stereotype ThreatA study on stereotype threat ina testing environment: As the number of males in a classroom environment increased, math performance for females decreased. (Inzlicht & Ben-Zeev, 2000). The authors attribute this to an “intellectually threatening environment”.
Stereotype ThreatA study (Johns, Schmader, & Martens, 2005) offeredsolutions to eliminating the negative effectsof the stereotype threat: Testing in same Exposure to gender positive role environments models Communicating that intelligence is a malleable trait.
Are single gender classrooms the solution? Benefits to single sex classes in a co-ed public school environment: Girls gain the socialization experiences of a co-ed school while also having the opportunity to excel in math and science in a non-stereotyping classroom setting. (Keating & Shapka, 2003, p. 953)
Research For Single Gender Math Classes In a two-year experimental single gender math course in middle school, the Girls perceived themselves reported “increased their as just as attentive in a confidence in their co-ed math class but mathematics ability and participated less and had their willingness to ask less interaction with the questions during class.” (Streitmatter, 1997) teacher. (Rennie & Parker, 1997)
Research Against Single Gender Math Classes• Teachers tend to interact more with boys than girls in both praise and critical feedback. (Fennema, 1979)• Single gender schools can cause inferior education for girls. (Fennema, 1979)
More Research is NeededHow can teachers improve agirl’s perceptions, confidence and anxiety that contribute to the success in mathematics? Research on teacher practices and interactions within a co-ed math class may shed more light on what can be done to increase confidence and perceptions of female students while in the presence of male students
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