Girls Learn Math Anxiety From Female Teachers

Instructors transfer bias to students

By John Johnson,  Newser Staff

Posted Jan 26, 2010 1:36 PM CST

(Newser) – Girls who buy into the stereotype that boys are better at math may be learning the trait from their own female teachers. Female first-and second-grade teachers worried about their math skills transfer that anxiety onto girls in their classrooms, a new study suggests. Those teachers were more likely to believe that boys are intuitively better at math and girls more suited to reading.

Girls who spent a year with math-averse teachers and bought into that line of thinking scored significantly lower than their peers on math tests. No such gap appeared previously among the students and their peers. "Teachers who are anxious about their own math abilities are translating some of that to their kids," the University of Chicago psychologist who led the study tells the Los Angeles Times.

A new study suggests that female teachers worried about their own math skills transfer that anxiety to their female students.
A new study suggests that female teachers worried about their own math skills transfer that anxiety to their female students.
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You don't want to dismiss 50% of the potential scientists because they're girls rather than boys. That's just crazy.
- University of Wisconsin psychology professor Janet Shibley Hyde

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