The Perception of Math: Venus vs. Mars - Student Resources

The Perception of Math: Venus vs. Mars

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“Mathematics Anxiety” a Cause for Underrepresentation of Women in STEM Fields

Performance, social acceptance, preference. There have been many debates on why women are often underrepresented in the male-dominated science, technology, engineering and math fields (STEM).

According to one recent study, girls across the globe are experiencing more “math anxiety” than boys, resulting in negative emotions and overall avoidance of math topics.

What’s even more concerning? It’s affecting all girls. Even in countries with higher gender equality.

You must be wondering, why? Scientists aren’t sure, but signs are pointing towards social conditioning. Parents appear to play a huge role, with the study finding that girls weren’t as likely as boys to say that their parents taught them the value of math.

In fact, these findings aren’t totally new—a 2007 study found that stereotypes could impact academic performance. They tested “stereotype threat” in a classroom setting, with two sets of female students each receiving the same math education, but with one set being taught by an instructor that would mention the stereotype that women aren’t as good at math as men. The result? The class exposed to the stereotype performed noticeably worse on math tests than the controlled class.

Whether it be in school or in society, girls may hear gender stereotyped messages about math skills. However, with Kumon, all students, regardless of age, grade or gender, have the opportunity to prove to themselves how capable they are in math on a regular basis because the program allows students to work up to their ability level.

The self-confidence that comes with Kumon study can increase a girl’s resilience to the stereotypes and social conditioning, as they typically develop a strong sense of their own capabilities.

Kumon’s mission is to discover the potential of every child and develop his or her ability to the maximum. Whether your children need additional support to reach their grade level or a little extra challenge outside of the classroom, Kumon’s self-learning method helps build the confidence required to succeed in school and in life.