The belief that girls are not at par with boys when it comes to mathematical skills because of biological differences is actually a myth and it stems from a gender bias from school teachers,says a new study.
Researchers at the University of Texas at Austin examined data gathered as part of the national Educational Longitudinal Study 2002 and found that teachers tend to rate girls’ math abilities lower than those of boys,even when the girls’ grades and test scores are comparable to boys.
“We find evidence of a consistent bias against females,which although relatively small in magnitude,suggests that teachers hold the belief that math is just easier for males than it is for females,” study authors Catherine Riegle-Crumb and Melissa Humphries were quoted as saying by LiveScience.
More data will be collected from the cohort this year,according to the US National Center for Education Statistics.
“The bias teachers reveal against female students may very well be something they are not consciously aware of,but it’s usually subtle,” said Riegle-Crumb.
“But it’s definitely present,per our research findings.”
The ELS data showed most teachers rated the math abilities of male and female minorities lower when their testscores and grades were low,but this does not constitute a bias because reasonable data support the teachers’ evaluations,according to the researchers.
However,this does not mean that minority students are free from negative stereotypes,according to Riegle-Crumb.
Previous research suggests race plays into teachers’ expectations of students.
Starting in 2002,the ELS began following a nationally representative cohort of high-school students,collecting information from students,parents,librarians and teachers.