Educational Studies in Mathematics

, Volume 94, Issue 1, pp 55–68 | Cite as

Mathematics education in Lebanon: gender differences in attitudes and achievement

  • Ketty M. SarouphimEmail author
  • Madona Chartouny


The purpose of this study was to investigate gender differences in students’ mathematics achievement and in their attitudes toward mathematics. Another purpose was to examine mathematics teachers’ beliefs and their perceptions of their male and female students’ ability. The sample consisted of 692 students (353 girls, 339 boys) between the ages of 12 and 16 years, enrolled in grades 7–9 at four private schools in Lebanon. Data were collected using the Attitudes Toward Mathematics (ATM) scale (Aiken in Journal for Research in Mathematics Education, 5, 67–71, 1974), school records, and interviews with teachers. Results showed no significant gender differences in either achievement or attitudes toward mathematics, thus dispelling the common belief that female students in traditional cultures do not perform well in mathematics and dislike the field. A main effect for grade level was found with ninth graders significantly outperforming their younger counterparts. Also, teachers viewed mathematics as a male domain and attributed boys’ success to ability and girls’ success to effort. They also interacted with boys more frequently regardless of the nature of the exchange. Implications for future research and for instructional practice are overviewed.


Mathematics education Gender differences Adolescence 


  1. Aiken, L. R. (1974). Two scales of attitude toward mathematics. Journal for Research in Mathematics Education, 5, 67–71.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Ayyash-Abdo, H. (2007). Adolescence in Lebanon. In J. J. Arnett (Ed.), International encyclopedia of adolescence (pp. 583–590). London: Routledge.Google Scholar
  3. Ayyash-Abdo, H., Bahous, R., & Nabhani, M. (2009). Educating young adolescents in Lebanon. In V. Anfara, S. Merten, & K. Roney (Eds.), Handbook of research in middle level education: An international look at educating young adolescents (pp. 25–46). Chapel Hill: Information Age Publishing.Google Scholar
  4. Bahous, R., & Nabhani, M. (2008). Improving schools for social justice in Lebanon. Improving Schools, 11, 127–141.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Beaman, R., Wheldall, K., & Kemp, C. (2006). Differential teacher attention to boys and girls in the classroom. Educational Review, 58(3), 339–366. doi: 10.1080/00131910600748406 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Brandell, G., & Staberg, E. M. (2008). Mathematics: A female, male or gender-neutral domain? A study of attitudes among students at secondary level. Gender and Education, 20, 495–509.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Cai, H., Luo, Y., Shi, Y., Liu, Y. & Yang, Z. (2016). Male=science, female=humanities: Both implicit and explicity gender-science stereotypes are heritable. Social Psychological and Personality Science, 7(5), 412–419. doi: 10.1177/1948550615627367
  8. Chapman, E. (2003). Development and validation of a brief mathematics attitude scale for primary-aged students. Journal of Educational Enquiry, 4(2), 63–73.Google Scholar
  9. Fennema, E., Peterson, P. L., Carpenter, T. P., & Lubinski, C. A. (1990). Teachers’ attributions and beliefs about girls, boys, and mathematics. Educational Studies in Mathematics, 21, 55–69.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Fennema, E., & Sherman, J. A. (1976). Fennema-Sherman mathematics attitude scale: Instruments designed to measures attitudes toward the learning of mathematics by females and males. Psychological Documents, 6(2), (ms. no. 1225).Google Scholar
  11. Forgasz, H., Leder, G., & Tan, H. (2014). Public views on the gendering of mathematics and related careers: International comparisons. Educational Studies in Mathematics, 87, 369–388. doi: 10.1007/s10649-014-9550-6 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Georgiou, S. N., Stavrinides, P., & Kalavana, T. (2007). Is Victor better than Victoria at mathematics? Educational Psychology in Practice, 23, 329–342.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Gherasim, L. R., Butnaru, S., & Mairean, C. (2013). Classroom environment, Achievement Goals and mathematics performance: Gender differences. Educational Studies, 33, 1–12.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Gonzales, P., Williams, T., Jocelyn, L., Roey, S., Kastberg, D., & Brenwald, S. (2008). Highlights from TIMSS 2007: Mathematics and science achievement of U.S. fourth- and eighth-grade students in an international context. (NCES 2009–001Revised). Washington, DC: National Center for Education Statistics, Institute of Education Sciences, U.S. Department of Education.Google Scholar
  15. Halpern, D. F. (2012). Sex differences in cognitive abilities. New York: Taylor & Francis.Google Scholar
  16. Hamzeh, E. (2009). Lebanese middle school students’ attitudes toward mathematics as a subject and toward mathematics teachers (Unpublished master’s thesis). Lebanese American University, Beirut, Lebanon.Google Scholar
  17. Hanna, G. (2003). Reaching gender equity in mathematics education. The Educational Forum, 67, 204–214.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Hassan, K. (2001). Gender issues in achievement in Lebanon. Social Behaviour and Personality, 29, 113–124.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Heilbronner, N. M. (2013). The STEM pathway for women: What has changed? Gifted Child Quarterly, 57, 39–55.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. Helwig, R., Anderson, L., & Tindal, G. (2001). Influence of elementary student gender on teachers’ perceptions of mathematics achievement. The Journal of Educational Research, 95, 93–102.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. Hoepfl, M. C. (1997). Choosing qualitative research: A primer for technology education researchers. Journal of Technology Education, 9(1), 47–63.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. Hoffman, M., Gneezy, U., & List, J. (2011). Nurture affects gender differences in spatial abilities. PNAS, 108, 14785–14788. doi: 10.1073/pnas.1015182108 Google Scholar
  23. Hyde, J. S. (2005). The gender similarities hypothesis. American Psychologist, 60(6), 581–592.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. Ingalhalikar, M., Smith, A., Parker, D., Satterthwaite, T. D., Elliott, M. A., Ruparel, K., et al. (2014). Sex differences in the structural connectome of the human brain. PNAS, 11(2), 823–828.Google Scholar
  25. Kelly, A. (1988). Gender differences in teacher–pupil interactions: A meta-analytic review. Research in Education, 39, 1–24.Google Scholar
  26. Leahy, E., & Guo, G. (2001). Gender differences in mathematical trajectories. Social Forces, 80(2), 713–732.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. Li, Q. (1999). Teachers’ beliefs and gender differences in mathematics: A review. Educational Research, 41, 63–76.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. Lindberg, S. M., Hyde, J. S., Petersen, J. L., & Linn, M. C. (2010). New trends in gender and mathematics performance: A meta-analysis. Psychological Bulletin, 136(6), 1123–1135. doi: 10.1037/a0021276 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  29. Merrett, F., & Wheldall, K. (1992). Teachers’ use of praise and reprimands to boys and girls. Educational Review, 44(1), 73–80.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  30. Myhill, D. (2002). Bad boys and good girls? Patterns of interaction and response in whole class teaching. British Educational Research Journal, 28, 340–352.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  31. Nosek, B. A., Smyth, F. L., Srirama, N., Lindner, N. M., Devos, T., Ayala, A., et al. (2009). National differences in gender-science stereotypes predict national sex differences in science and math achievement. PNAS, 106, 10593–10597. doi: 10.1073/pnas.0809921106
  32. Patrick, H., Turner, J. C., Meyer, D. K., & Midgley, C. (2003). How teachers establish psychological environments during the first days of schools: Associations with avoidance in mathematics. Teachers College Record, 105(8), 1521–1558.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  33. Preckel, F., Goetz, T., Pekrun, R., & Kleine, M. (2008). Gender differences in gifted and average-ability students. Gifted Child Quarterly, 52, 146–159.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  34. Robinson, J. P., & Lubinski, S. T. (2011). The development of gender achievement in mathematics and reading during elementary and middle school: Examining, direct cognitive assessments and teacher ratings. American Educational Research Journal, 48, 268–302.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  35. Sarouphim, K. M. (2009). The use of a performance assessment for identifying gifted Lebanese students: Is DISCOVER effective? Journal for the Education of the Gifted, 33, 276–296.Google Scholar
  36. Sarouphim, K. M. (2010). A model for the education of gifted learners in Lebanon. International Journal of Special Education, 25(1), 71–79.Google Scholar
  37. Sarouphim, K. M. (2011). Gifted and non-gifted Lebanese youth: Gender differences in self-concept, self-esteem and depression. International Education, 41, 26–41.Google Scholar
  38. Sarouphim, K. M. (2015). Slowly but surely: Small steps toward establishing gifted education programs in Lebanon. Journal for the Education of the Gifted, 38(2), 196–211. doi: 10.1177/0162353215578278 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  39. Stoet, G. E., & Geary, D. D. (2013). Sex differences in mathematics and reading achievement are inversely related: Within- and across-nation assessment of 10 years of PISA data. PLoS ONE, 8(3), e57988. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0057988 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  40. Tapia, M., & Marsh, G. E. (2004). An instrument to measure mathematics attitudes. Academic Exchange Quarterly, 8(2), 16–21.Google Scholar
  41. Tiedemann, J. (2000). Gender-related beliefs of teachers in elementary school mathematics. Educational Studies in Mathematics, 41(2), 191–207.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  42. Tsui, M. (2007). Gender and mathematics achievement in China and the United States. Gender Issues, 24, 1–11.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  43. Turner, J. C., Meyer, D. K., Anderman, E. M., Midgley, C., Gheen, M., Kang, Y., et al. (2002). The classroom environment and students’ reports of avoidance strategies in mathematics: A multimethod study. Journal of Educational Psychology, 94(1), 88–106.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  44. United Nations. (2001). Review of the youth situation in the ESCWA region. Economic and social commission for Western Asia. Retrieved April 15 2005 from, Society, 21, 331343.Google Scholar
  45. United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Western Asia. (2002). Women and men in Lebanon: A statistical portrait. Beirut: ESCWA.Google Scholar
  46. Villalobos, A. (2009). The importance of breaking set. Theory and Research in Education, 7, 27–45.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  47. Weis, L., et al. (2015). In the guise of STEM education reform: Opportunity structures and outcomes in inclusive STEM-focused high schools. American Educational Research Journal, 52, 1024–1059. doi: 10.3102/0002831215604045 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  48. World Bank. (2002). Exploring countries and regions. Retrieved November 8 2005 from
  49. Zouein, G. (2003). Lebanon: System of education. In T. Husen & T. N. Postlethwaite (Eds.), The international encyclopedia of education (pp. 3349–3356). New York: Pergamon.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Social SciencesLebanese American UniversityBeirutLebanon
  2. 2.Department of EducationLebanese American UniversityBeirutLebanon

Personalised recommendations