Research Finds a Bias Against Female Students by High School Mathematics Teachers

A study by researchers at the University of Texas at Austin finds that high school math teachers have biases concerning the abilities of their female students compared to their male counterparts. Teachers were asked to rate students on whether the mathematics class in which they were enrolled was too easy for them or too difficult for them. The results showed that teachers were more likely to believe their female students were less competent than their male students, even when their grades and test scores were identical.

Catherine Riegle-Crumb, an assistant professor in the department of curriculum and instruction at the University of Texas and a co-author of the study, stated, “If the math bias against females is present in elementary school, which past research shows it is, and continues through high school and then college, then it’s much less likely that you will find women pursuing math-related high-status occupations in science and technology. If you perceive the message ‘You’re just not quite as good at math as the boys are’ often enough, you may start to believe it.”

Dr. Riegle-Crumb has been on the faculty at the University of Texas since 2007. She is a magna cum laude graduate of Texas A&M University. She holds a master’s degree and a Ph.D. in sociology from the University of Chicago.

The study, co-authored by University of Texas doctoral student Melissa Humphries, appears in the April issue of the journal Gender & Society.

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  1. Sam says:

    What about the biases against boys in our schools? Boys are perceived as being lazy, stupid, violent, etc. Do they matter or are we just supposed to care about girls?

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