"Math by Gender"

Summary and reflection on "Math by Gender"...

"Math by Gender"

          The first article I chose to read is an article written by Jean Thilmany, called “Math By Gender.”  In the first paragraph of the article, the author says “Girls around the world are no worse at math than boys, though boys are more confident in their math abilities.  And girls from countries where gender equity is more prevalent are more likely to perform better on mathematics assessment tests, according to study done at Villanova University, which analyzed international research into the subject” (Thilmany, 2010).  The points presented in the article’s first paragraph serve as the basis for the entire article.  The article discusses how even though there is a stereotype surrounding the idea that females are inferior to males in terms of mathematics, scientific data proves differently.  The results of the study performed at Villanova University show that females do in fact, have the ability to be just as successful at mathematics as males, if provided with the necessary educational tools and female role models who are successful at mathematics.  The article also describes two large-scale studies that were conducted in 2003, each of which looked at students’ math skills across different countries.  Each of the studies only found small gender differences in the ability of the students to demonstrate different math abilities.  Finally, the study showed that boys had a much higher level of confidence in their mathematical abilities than girls.  However, girls are motivated to do well mathematically with positive feedback.           

          This article grabbed my attention because during my years of public schooling and even during my undergraduate studies at FDU, I often heard stereotypes regarding boys and girls in educational settings whether it was through a firsthand conversation I was having or through something I overheard.  Until reading this article, I had never really explored the topic of gender stereotypes in mathematics.  But after delving deeper into the topic, I have gained a great deal of insight with regard to how parents and educators can make or break a girl’s ability to do well in math.  As a pre-service teacher, I am already worrying about the success my future students will have in the classroom.  This article has provided me with valuable tips for helping my future students (particularly girls) succeed in math.  This article has distinctively taught me the importance of finding the educational tools required to suit each child’s specific learning needs as well as the importance of providing students with feedback on their mathematical progress and encouragement regularly.  It also came as a shock to me that confidence levels play such a significant role in the mathematical success of boys and girls, and that these levels between boys and girls vary considerably.  Finally, after reading this article, I feel it is necessary to make a promise to myself, my future students, and one day my own children, that I will not only be a teacher and a parent but that I will also serve as a role model who is successful in math, herself.


Thilmany, J.. (2010). MATH BY GENDER. Mechanical Engineering, 132(3), 15.  Retrieved April 28, 2010, from Research Library Core.  (Document ID: 1980866371).