Believing Stereotype Undermines Girls’ Math Performance: Elementary School Women Teachers Transfer Their Fear of Doing Math to Girls, Study Finds

Female elementary school teachers who are anxious about math pass on to female students the stereotype that boys, not girls, are good at math. Girls who endorse this belief then do worse at math, research at the University of Chicago shows.

These findings are the product of a year-long study on 17 first- and second-grade teachers and 52 boys and 65 girls who were their students. The researchers found that boys’ math performance was not related to their teacher’s math anxiety while girls’ math achievement was affected.

“Having a highly math-anxious female teacher may push girls to confirm the stereotype that they are not as good as boys at math, which in turn, affects girls’ math achievement,” said Sian Beilock, Associate Professor in Psychology and the Committee on Education at the University of Chicago, lead author of a paper, “Female Teachers’ Math Anxiety Affects Girls’ Math Achievement” published in the January 11 issue of the

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