108 Future Forwards: Exploring Frontiers in Education
employment, the narrower the gender gap in math achievement. So, it is
important to consider how gender role models may affect how girls view
their ability, interest, and motivation to achieve in math.
Researchers also found that countries participating in TIMSS (countries in
which girls have equal access to education) were more likely to have
similar achievement levels in math. This indicates that when girls are
represented equally in education, they may perform better than in
situations where they are less equally represented. It seems that girls
achieve equally to boys when they are more well represented and that
they perform better in learning when the girls have visible female role
models in society.
Else-Quest et.al. (2010) also looked at girls’ attitudes and their effect in
relation to employment. They concluded that gender equity across a
variety of domains has a positive impact on girls’ mathematics self-confidence, self-concept, extrinsic and intrinsic motivation, and valuing
math. The idea that societal messages around gender affect girls’ math
achievement can also be found in the PISA data. While girls reported less
confidence in their ability to answer math questions, girls did report more
self-efficacy with gender-stereotypical content. For example, a higher
percentage of girls felt confident answering questions about calculating
a sale percentage and fewer girls reported feeling confident answering
questions about calculating gas consumption.
Girls are more likely to do well and feel confident in their math abilities if
they see women represented in these and other highly valued
community positions. And it seems likely that women may be more likely
to enter these positions if schools can address the nature of gender
equity, specifically girls’ self-concept, through schooling.
The research I found around gender equity in education led me to
conclude that supporting girls in mathematics is related to differences in
how girls develop spatial concepts, girls’ typically low self-concept of their
math abilities, and a lack of female math roles models. As a result of these