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Large study shows females are equal to males in math skills
EurekAlert: A new study shows that the math skills of boys and girls and women and men are equal. Stereotypes do affect performance, as differences only appear when parents, teachers, and other figures steer girls and women away from math.
"The mathematical skills of boys and girls, as well as men and women, are substantially equal, according to a new examination of existing studies in the current online edition of journal Psychological Bulletin.
Sara Lindberg, now a postdoctoral fellow in women's health at the UW-Madison School of Medicine and Public Health, was the primary author of the meta-analysis in Psychological Bulletin.
The idea that both genders have equal math abilities is widely accepted among social scientists, Hyde adds, but word has been slow to reach teachers and parents, who can play a negative role by guiding girls away from math-heavy sciences and engineering. "One reason I am still spending time on this is because parents and teachers continue to hold stereotypes that boys are better in math, and that can have a tremendous impact on individual girls who are told to stay away from engineering or the physical sciences because 'Girls can't do the math.'"
Scientists now know that stereotypes affect performance, Hyde adds. "There is lots of evidence that what we call 'stereotype threat' can hold women back in math. If, before a test, you imply that the women should expect to do a little worse than the men, that hurts performance. It's a self-fulfilling prophecy."