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Gender and Culture

Many researchers have studied the issue of gender preferences as they relate to science. Studies by several investigators showed that math and science teachers treat girls and boys differently in the classroom. Teachers make more eye contact with boys and pay more attention to them than they do to girls in their classes. Teachers have also been shown to have differing styles of dealing with male and female pupils. When boys give wrong answers in class, teachers challenge them to find the correct answer; girls get sympathy. "Boys tend to operate the equipment and actually perform the experiment while girls tend to record data and write reports." [4]
The result of a loss in self confidence differences in treatment appears to begin around the seventh grade and continue through high school. A study of seventh-graders found an interesting difference: "The difference wasn't in performance-males and females performed comparably in math and science courses-but in the fact that females consistently underestimated their abilities. Because of this lack of confidence, the females begin taking fewer math and science courses than their male schoolmates, a trend that accelerates in high school (Astin and Astin 1993)."
4. See discussion in Alper 1993. Up arrow
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