## GENDER GAP IN MATH

**Editor's Note: Jordan A. ('16)**looks critically at information about the differences in math performance between genders and creates a hypothetical study that she would carry out to learn more.On Jan. 14, 2005 Larry Summers declared the possibility that women are intrinsically inferior to men in mathematics. In an attempt to prove him wrong I have conducted a study to show that girls ability in math is relative to where they live due to the cultural stereotypes they are brought up with. According to the Program for International Student Assessment (PISA) there are five countries where girls outperform boys. In this study the goal is to look at the countries where female students have the highest performance and countries where male students have the highest performance and figure out what causes these different results. According to PISA, Iceland and Thailand are a few of the countries in which girls have the highest performance in math on standardized testing. Greece and Korea are two of the countries in which boys have the highest performance in math on standardized testing. Possible variables include parental attitudes based on the cultural expectations of the countries they live in, teacher biases and teacher quality, as well as economic investment that countries are willing to invest in each student’s academic future.

I have decided to focus on the parental attitudes. In an article entitled

In my hypothetical study I would survey 500 parents from each country. The survey would be anonymous so as to get truthful responses. The questions would be answered on a 4 point scale (leaving out a middle number to get definitive responses). 1 is strongly disagree, 2 is disagree, 3 is agree and 4 is strongly agree. Statements would include:

Hypothesis: Parents of girls in countries where girls are less successful in math have negative gender biases regarding girls in math. Parents of girls in countries where girls are more successful have positive gender biases regarding girls in math.

I have decided to focus on the parental attitudes. In an article entitled

*Google, Tell Me. Is My Son a Genius*Seth Stephens-Davidowitz conducted a study that showed parents role in gender stereotypes. Parents consistently searched on Google questions about their daughters’ appearance and searched questions about their son’s academic achievement. This emphasizes the fact that parents contribute to gender biases and expectations. PISA also calculated that 14% of girls attending university major in STEM subjects (ex: engineering) whereas 39% of boys do. I am curious as to why girls are not pursuing these fields. In contrast to Mr. Summers I do not believe that women are intrinsically inferior to men mathematically. Instead I believe that the expectations of students’ parents play a major role in their interests. The reason why girls are distinctly higher achieving in math than boys in some countries is due to the different cultural expectations that appear within households.In my hypothetical study I would survey 500 parents from each country. The survey would be anonymous so as to get truthful responses. The questions would be answered on a 4 point scale (leaving out a middle number to get definitive responses). 1 is strongly disagree, 2 is disagree, 3 is agree and 4 is strongly agree. Statements would include:

*I have encouraged my daughter to major in STEM subjects*or*In general I believe boys are more interested in math and science subjects where as girls are more interested in literature and the arts*. For families with children of different genders the statement could read*I have the same expectations for my children’s academic success*. This survey would give insight into whether or not the stereotypes parents place on their children are related to the level of success of females in those countries. I would also have to research the different countries and find out what the cultural expectations are from girls. I would expect that countries where girls are respected and treated equally with boys are ones where girls do better and the vice versa.Hypothesis: Parents of girls in countries where girls are less successful in math have negative gender biases regarding girls in math. Parents of girls in countries where girls are more successful have positive gender biases regarding girls in math.

OECD (2015),

Else-Quest, N. M., Hyde, J. S., & Linn, M. C. (2010). Cross-national patterns of gender differences in mathematics: A meta-analysis. Psychological Bulletin, 136, 103–127.

Elliot, Lise. "The Myth of Pink."

*The ABC of Gender Equality in Education: Aptitude, Behaviour, Confidence,*PISA, OECD Publishing.*http://dx.doi.org/10.1787/9789264229945-en*Else-Quest, N. M., Hyde, J. S., & Linn, M. C. (2010). Cross-national patterns of gender differences in mathematics: A meta-analysis. Psychological Bulletin, 136, 103–127.

Elliot, Lise. "The Myth of Pink."

*Pink Brain, Blue Brain*. N.p.: Macmillan Australia, 2010. N. pag. Print.