ESRI Research Bulletin

Gender stereotyping in mothers’ and teachers’ perceptions of boys’ and girls’ mathematics performance in Ireland

ESRI Research Bulletin Articles provide short summaries of work published by ESRI researchers and overviews of thematic areas covered by ESRI programmes of research. Bulletin Articles are designed to be easily accessible to a wide readership. A reference or references to the full publication is included at the start of each Bulletin article.

October 27, 2021


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Earlier research from other countries suggests that teachers and parents tend to associate ‘natural’ mathematical ability with boys more often than girls and stereotype mathematics as a male domain. There has been less attention on why teachers and parents form these judgements and whether they partly reflect children’s own engagement with mathematics. This paper examines whether mothers and teachers estimate girls’ mathematics performance less highly than that of boys’, when taking account of their performance on mathematics tests. Being exposed on a daily basis to their pupils’ mathematics performance, we might expect that teachers might be less influenced by gender stereotypes than mothers who are only likely to be exposed to their own child’s mathematics performance. Mothers and teachers may also use other indicators (such as a liking for mathematics, diligence in performing homework) in making assessments, and thus we also take account of these.