The gender-stereotyping of mathematics : Pre-service teachers' views

Year: 2000

Author: FORGASZ, H

Type of paper: Abstract refereed

In the past, mathematics was strongly believed to be a 'male domain'. This belief, researchers postulated, contributed to females' decisions not to pursue studies in non-compulsory and/or challenging mathematics courses to the same extent as males. One of the subscales of the Fennema-Sherman Mathematics attitude scales has been widely used to tap beliefs about the stereotyping of mathematics as a male domain. Having argued that many of the items on the scale were anachronistic and others no longer valid (Forgasz, Leder & Gardner, 1999), two new instruments were developed and trialed. Findings from the administration of the instruments to Australian grade 7-10 students have been reported (Forgasz, Leder and Kaur, 1999; Leder & Forgasz, 2000).

The data indicated that students now consider boys more likely than girls to find mathematics difficult, and to need additional help. Girls were considered more likely than boys to enjoy mathematics and find mathematics interesting. Findings such as these challenge notions of mathematics as a masculine endeavour. The same instruments were recently administered to primary and secondary pre-service teachers of mathematics. The results are reported in this paper and comparisons made with the findings from the students.