Sex Roles

, Volume 66, Issue 3–4, pp 184–190 | Cite as

Understanding the Paradox in Math-Related Fields: Why Do Some Gender Gaps Remain While Others Do Not?

  • Sapna CheryanEmail author
Feminist Forum


Despite the ubiquity of harmful math attitudes that disadvantage girls, girls are now performing just as well as boys in math in the U.S. (Hyde et al. 1990; Hyde et al. 2008). At the same time, stark gender disparities remain in who chooses to pursue math-related careers (National Science Foundation 2009). Why have gender disparities persisted in some math-related domains but not others? I suggest that considering the extent to which math-related domains are stereotyped as masculine can help explain why women do not seek out math-related careers, even as they perform just as well in math. Changing current stereotypes of math-related careers to make them less incongruent with the female gender role may help to recruit more women into these careers.


Gender disparities Stereotypes Underrepresentation Gender roles Education 



Preparation of this article was supported by an NSF CAREER award (DRL-0845110). I thank Jenessa Shapiro and Kaiser-Cheryan lab members, especially Cheryl Kaiser and Martin Ryan, for their helpful feedback.


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© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of PsychologyUniversity of WashingtonSeattleUSA

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