Tuesday, June 12, 2007

"Girl Math" Stereotype Lives On

Just when we thought it was safe for our daughters to study math....

Stereotype-induced math anxiety robs women’s working memory
Also has lingering effect on other tasks
May 24, 2007

"A popular stereotype that boys are better at mathematics than girls undermines girls’ math performance because it causes worrying that erodes the mental resources needed for problem solving, new research at the University of Chicago shows.

The scholars found that the worrying undermines women’s working memory. Working memory is a short-term memory system involved in the control, regulation and active maintenance of limited information needed immediately to deal with problems at hand.

They also showed for the first time that this threat to performance caused by stereotyping can also hinder success in other academic areas because mental abilities do not immediately rebound after being compromised by mathematics anxiety.

“This may mean that if a girl takes a verbal portion of a standardized test after taking the mathematics portion, she may not do as well on the verbal portion as she might do if she had not been recently struggling with math-related worries and anxiety,” said
Sian Beilock, Assistant Professor in Psychology and lead investigator in the study.

“Likewise, our work suggests that if a girl has a mathematics class first thing in the morning and experiences math-related worries in this class, these worries may carry implications for her performance in the class she attends next,” she added.


“We demonstrated that worries about confirming a negative group stereotype may not only impact performance in the stereotyped domain, but that this impact can spill over onto subsequent, unrelated tasks that depend on the same processing resource the stereotype-related worries consume,” Beilock and her colleagues wrote."

Shhh.... please don't tell my daughter. She doesn't know she is "supposed" to have math anxiety. She actually is under the impression that math is really cool and that she's also very good at it.

That, and it will just give her one more thing to blame her brother for.

Press Release Here

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