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Gender Differences in Mathematics Performance

Richard B. Felson and Lisa Trudeau
Social Psychology Quarterly
Vol. 54, No. 2 (Jun., 1991), pp. 113-126
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/2786930
Page Count: 14
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Gender Differences in Mathematics Performance
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Abstract

We examine the standard socialization explanation of gender differences in mathematics performance using data from children in Grades 5 through 12. The evidence suggests that although girls earn better grades and higher scores on most tests than boys, their grades in mathematics are lower than their grades in other subjects. In addition, boys do better on the SAT, even though girls are at least as well prepared in coursework in this school. The standard socialization explanation of why girls have difficulties with mathematics, and a recent modification of this explanation, are not supported. There is no evidence of gender effects on parental encouragement in mathematics, and girls' anxiety about mathematics reflects general test anxiety rather than any special fear of mathematics. We argue that gender socialization processes must be more specific if they are to explain why boys outperform girls on some tests while girls outperform boys on others.

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