It’s not always mothers who harbor an unconscious gender bias towards their little girl’s math skills. Even if you’re all about gender-permissive parenting tactics and encouraging her to go all the way with those STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) subjects, she’ll be going up against an another bias once she gets into the classroom: her teacher.
Livescience reports that in a national survey of high schools, researchers discovered a very distinct gender bias against white teenage girls. Even in instances in which girls’ math scores and grades were “comparable” to that of boys, teachers rated girls’ math abilities as lower. This tendency didn’t manifest in any raving sexist Calculus professors who made their distaste for sharp young ladies known, but rather something a lot more “subtle” and unconscious according to reports:
“We find evidence of a consistent bias against white females, which although relatively small in magnitude, suggests that teachers hold the belief that math is just easier for white males than it is for white females,” writes Catherine Riegle-Crumb and Melissa Humphries of the University of Texas at Austin in the April issue of the journal Gender & Society…”The bias teachers reveal against white female students may very well be something they are not consciously aware of, but it’s usually subtle,” said Riegle-Crumb in a news release issued by the university. “But it’s definitely present, per our research findings.”
Even teachers aren’t immune to the cultural stereotype that girls can’t do math, present in a slew of sexist t-shirts and mothers who chat with their sons about mathematical concepts and not their little girls. Many are guilty, but regardless of whether it’s an unconscious slip or a raging sexist diatribe, the effects on your daughter and her opportunities aren’t positive.