New Study on Math Anxiety Highlights Gender Differences

gender difference in math anxietyA new study on math anxiety highlights the gender differences in this area, and the study shows that girls tend to suffer from mathematics anxiety more frequently than boys do. A collaboration between researchers at the University of California-Irvine, the University of Missouri, and Scotland’s University of Glasgow have determined that there are several factors not related to math performance which could also cause girls to experience more anxiety over math than boys do. Study co-author and University of Glasgow psychology specialist Dr. Gijsbert Stoet explained that “Policies to attract more girls and women into subjects such as computer science, physics, and engineering have largely failed,. Gender equality is a key humanistic value in enlightened and developed societies, but our research shows that policymakers cannot rely on it as the sole factor in getting more girls into subjects like physics and computer science. It is fair to say that nobody knows what will actually attract more girls into these subjects. Policies and programs to change the gender balance in non-organic STEM subjects have just not worked.”

University of Missouri College of Arts and Science Curators Professor of Psychological Sciences Dr. David Geary detailed the study on math anxiety and gender differences, stating “We analyzed student performance in 15-year-olds from around the world, along with socio-economic indicators in more than 60 countries and economic regions, including the U.S. and the United Kingdom. Analysis revealed that girls’ mathematics anxiety was not related to the level of their mothers’ engagement in science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) careers, nor was it related to gender equality in the countries we studied. In fact, the gender difference in mathematics anxiety was larger in more gender-equal and developed countries. In more developed countries, boys’ and girls’ mathematics performance was higher and their mathematics anxiety was lower, but this pattern was stronger for boys than for girls.”

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