The study was based on 17 first- and
second-grade elementary school teachers, along with 52 boys and 65
girls. At the beginning of the school year, researchers learned
boys' and girls' math achievement didn't correlate depending on the
attitude of their teacher.
Boys weren't affected, but
girls who began to believe boys are naturally
better at math yielded lower grades.
"We are not sure
whether it's something overt, whether it's non-verbal behavior or
perhaps (teachers are) not spending much time on the subject,"
said Susan Levine, University of Chicago psychology and human
development professor, co-author of the “Female Teachers' Math
Anxiety Affects Girls' Math Achievement” study. "It's
not just a teacher's knowledge of the subject, but there' something
about their feeling about the discipline."
This is a
significant problem since there is a high demand for scientists,
engineers and mathematicians, as these are in-demand jobs that
help stimulate the economy. However, men continue to
dominate the engineering and IT jobs, and researchers believe it's
detrimental to research to "dismiss 50%" of researchers
because they are women.
The National Survey of Science and
Mathematics Education indicates more than 90% of all elementary
school teachers in the U.S. are women -- an inadequate level of
mathematics study is required to receive a teaching certificate,
which is something that may be addressed in the future.