Recent research suggests that the gender gap in math performance is closing (Else-Quest, Hyde, & Linn, 2010; Hyde, Lindberg, Linn, Ellis, & Williams, 2008). However, negative stereotypes about girls’ math abilities are still widely held (Bhanot & Jovanovic, 2005; Bleeker & Jacobs, 2004). The gender gap in visual-spatial skills, or the ability to reason about and manipulate mental pictures, still exists in that boys outperform girls on visual-spatial tasks. The current study drew from literature on stereotype threat (i.e., the risk of confirming negative stereotypes about a specific group; Steele, 1997) to investigate the impact of negative math stereotypes on girls’ math and visual-spatial performance. The impact of negative math stereotypes on boys’ math and visual-spatial performance was also explored. Additionally, the current study examined adolescents’ experiences with sexism and the possible impact of these experiences on performance. Adolescents read three hypothetical news articles designed to induce stereotype threat. Contrary to hypotheses, math performance and visual-spatial performance were not found to vary by the article read. Findings suggest that the articles utilized may not have successfully induced stereotype threat. Also contrary to hypotheses, experiences with sexism did not predict adolescents’ math or visual-spatial performance. Significant gender differences were found for math and visual spatial performance. Limitations of the current study and possible reasons why the articles did not successfully induce stereotype threat are discussed.
|School:||West Virginia University|
|School Location:||United States -- West Virginia|
|Source:||DAI-B 74/11(E), Dissertation Abstracts International|
|Subjects:||Educational psychology, Developmental psychology|
|Keywords:||Adolescents, Mathematics, Spatial skills, Stereotype threat|
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