The Waiting Time: Student Perceptions of Gender Bias in Middle School Mathematics




Cooper, Ian

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Studies have shown that girls’ attitudes toward math are not as positive as that of boys (Fennema, & Sherman, 1977; Eccles, & Blumenfeld, 1985; Guimond, & Roussel, 2001). Crucially, research has also shown that this gender imbalance is a learned trait, female students in high school are more likely to have negative perceptions of Mathematics, than female students in elementary school (Spears Brown, & Bigler, 2004; Maritnot, 2012). This mixed methods research study examined the perceptions of gender bias in Grade 8 mathematics at West Rock Middle School, surveying 45 participants, (20 male, 25 female). A modified Fennema-Sherman Mathematics Attitude Scale, in combination with a Forgasz and Leder Who and Mathematics Scale, was used to uncover a slight variability in achievement and attitudinal scores between genders in a middle school mathematics class. A follow-up semi-structured interview with six students (two male, four female) determined that that variance seemed not to be due to a student perception of gender bias, but, rather, a multitude of attitudinal concerns.



gender bias, mathematics, attitudinal difference, middle school, student perception, mixed methods