10 Future Forwards: Exploring Frontiers in Education
• Data collected by PISA reported that parents are more likely to expect
sons rather than daughters to work in STEM fields (OECD, 2015).
• Gender Stratification hypothesis proposes that gender differences are
closely related to cultural variations in opportunity for girls and women
(Else-Quest, et al., 2010).
Educational researchers are examining the ways in which beliefs around
cognitive abilities affects one’s ability to learn. In 2006 Carol Dweck wrote
Growth Mindset a book which, based on her research, demonstrated
that fixed mindsets, the belief that your cognitive abilities are fixed,
has negative impact to students’ growth in self-concept and academic
ability. The connection between self-efficacy and perception of academic
ability is particularly damaging for high achieving girls, who, when having
a fixed mindset, may fear challenges in service of maintaining the image
of smartness (Boaler, 1997). Boys tend to approach math as a challenge,
whereas girls tend to approach challenging math if they view it as nonthreatening (Ethington, 1992). Girls math achievement was also connected
to their perceptions of the subject as male dominated (Boaler, 1997). Hence,
some girls, including high ability girls, may view math as a subject for boys
and approach math challenges with trepidation because of a disbelief in
their ability to take on challenge, because of a fixed mindset.
Researchers have also examined the congruence between typical math
learning and gender-based learning preferences. Jo Boaler (2014) proposes
differences in how girls and boys prefer to learn and how these differences
may affect math learning. She cites research by Jones, Howe, and Rua
(2000) demonstrating that girls tend to have a self concept of thinker and
communicator and these personal views are in conflict with the notion of
students in procedural classrooms. Thus, girls may not see themselves as
fitting in traditional math classrooms where the focus is on the procedures
and not on collaboration.