White girls can’t do math, teachers say

From NCWIT (National Council of Women in IT) –

Did you know that a recent study using data on 15,000 students from the National Center of Education Statistics found that teachers consistently rate girls as less good at math than boys, even with similar grades and test scores? Researchers in the study found that while on average teachers rate minority students lower than their white male counterparts, these differences disappear once grades are taken into account. However, they found patterns of bias against white girls that can’t be explained by their academic performance. According to one of the study’s authors, the misconception that white girls can’t handle math persists “Because the idea that men and women are different in this regard is considered natural, and not discriminatory.” At the same time, teachers may be more aware of race and ethnicity – and the problems of racial discrimination – than they are when it comes to gender.

Why are High School Teachers Convinced that White Girls Can’t Do Math? – Forbes.com

The research (the abstract is free at least) – Exploring Bias in Math Teachers’ Perceptions of Students’ Ability by Gender and Race/Ethnicity – University of Texas at Austin

2 Replies to “White girls can’t do math, teachers say”

  1. I can’t stop thinking about your post – it is something we talked about when I was in teacher training (more years ago than I care to admit) – and I guess I thought it was no longer an issue.

    My High School friend who got a university major in mathematics was the first person of my generation (that I knew of) to make six figures per year and buy a house. That was back in 1994. I thought about going back to school.

    Any ideas for helping to end the discrimination? The only ones I can think of it to make sure you call on girls and boys an equal number of time and frequently mix cooperative groups.

    Janet | expateducator.com

  2. Janet,
    I think it has to be multiple ways – teachers have to turn up their awareness as you suggest. This has to be taught in pre-service courses so new teachers don’t develop these habits.

    Plus we have to teach students as well. I think this one may be the most important, since we are not going to change culture overnight. We have to teach kids to be resilient and to see and hear stereotypes about themselves as just that, stereotypes, not the truth. And they have to do this both in and out of the classroom. See my blog post on “stereotype threat” for more research on how to combat that with students.

    All these things need to happen.

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