Do Growth Mindsets in Math Benefit Females? Identifying Pathways between Gender, Mindset, and Motivation
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Despite efforts to increase female representation in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM), females continue to be less motivated to pursue STEM careers than males. A short-term longitudinal study used a sample of 1449 high school students (grades 9–12; 49% females) to examine pathways from gender and mindset onto STEM outcomes via motivational beliefs (i.e., expectancy beliefs, task value, and cost). Mindset, motivational beliefs, and STEM career aspirations were assessed between the fall and winter months of the 2014–2015 school year and math grades were obtained at the conclusion of the same year. Student growth mindset beliefs predicted higher task values in math. Task values also mediated the pathway from a growth mindset to higher STEM career aspirations. Expectancy beliefs mediated the pathway between gender and math achievement. This mediated pathway was stronger for females than for males, such that females had higher math achievement than males when they endorsed a growth mindset. Findings suggest possible avenues for improving female’s interest in STEM.
KeywordsAchievement motivation Growth mindset STEM career aspirations Gender differences
This study was supported by National Science Foundation Grant 1503181.
J.L.D. conceptually designed the study, interpreted the results, and drafted and revised the manuscript; M.T.W contributed to the conceptual design of the study and interpretation of the results, and reviewed and revised drafts of the manuscript; Y.Z. carried out analyses, drafted the analytic plan and reviewed drafts of the manuscript; J.A. drafted the method section and reviewed drafts of the manuscript. All authors have read and approved the final manuscript.
Compliance with Ethical Standards
Conflict of Interest
The authors declare that they have no competing interests.
A review conducted by the Institutional Review Board approved the study to be consistent with the protection of the rights and welfare of human subjects and to meet the requirements of the Federal Guidelines. All procedures performed in studies involving human participants were in accordance with the ethical standards of the institutional and/or national research committee and with the 1964 Helsinki declaration and its later amendments or comparable ethical standards.
Informed consent was obtained from all individual participants included in the study.
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