Language and Communication
• Females tend to use the cerebral cortex for spatial tasks - the cerebral
cortex is used for language, understanding and interacting with the
outside world. Males tend to use the hippocampus - the part of the
brain hardwired for spatial concepts.
• Girls are generally more likely to be interested real world connections,
while boys are generally more likely to be interested in numbers for
numbers’ sake. (Sax, 2007).
• Providing a storytelling context in math lessons had a positive impact
on girls’ spatial awareness (Casey, Erkut, Ceder, and Young (2008).
Girls’ Self-Concepts & Math Abilities
• 8 of the 64 participating countries, girls reported more anxiety towards
math than boys and have less belief in their ability, even when they
performed as well as boys.
• PISA found that this math self-concept gap is even larger among top
performers in math. Girls, who are top performers in math, have even
greater anxiety and less belief in their abilities than boys who perform
at a similar level (OECD, 2015).
• Both average and gifted girls reported lower self-concept and interest
in mathematics, despite no difference in math grades (Preckel, Goetz,
Pekrun, and Kleine, 2008).
The connection between gender equity in math achievement, societal
expectations, and self-concept is cyclical, 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
woman may be more likely to enter these positions if schools can address
the nature of gender equity, including girls’ self-concept, through schooling.