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Mathematically gifted adolescent females’ mixed sentiment toward gender stereotypes

Abstract

There has been a paucity of research on gifted individuals’ perceptions of gender stereotypes. The purpose of this study was to explore mathematically gifted adolescent females’ perceptions of gender stereotypes through a research design of the qualitative multiple case study involving the constant comparison and the Three C’s analysis scheme. Nine female junior high school students living in an urban area of Taiwan were recruited. Five major themes emerged after data analysis: uncomfortable feelings about gender inequality, denial of the importance of beauty, high career aspirations, agreement on the stereotypes of negative female dispositions, and identification with masculine qualities and interests. These themes reflected their mixed sentiment toward gender stereotypes. The social identity approach, social status theory, and optimal distinctiveness theory were employed to explain these young women’s perception of gender stereotypes. Implications for interventions to address inner conflict and for future research were also discussed.

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Acknowledgments

The research study reported herein is financially supported by Taiwan’s National Science Council (Grant # NSC 97-2511-S-024-008)

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Correspondence to Chen-yao Kao.

Appendices

Appendix A: Sample interview questions for student participants

  1. 1.

    What did/do you like most about yourself? Why?

  2. 2.

    What did/do you like least about yourself? Why?

  3. 3.

    What do you think about your appearance?

  4. 4.

    Please describe your memorable early childhood experiences.

  5. 5.

    What were the toys and games you usually played with in your childhood?

  6. 6.

    What is your favorite sport? Do you exercise regularly?

  7. 7.

    Please describe your interpersonal relationships.

  8. 8.

    Have you had any adjustment difficulties at school?

  9. 9.

    How do you express your emotions and feelings?

  10. 10.

    Please describe your personal goals/aspirations.

  11. 11.

    Is it possible for you to be a full-time housewife? Why?

  12. 12.

    What do your think about women attaining high achievements in the fields related to math and science?

  13. 13.

    What do you think about the negative stereotypic traits concerning women?

  14. 14.

    What do you think about girls’ high schools? Are they more beneficial for girls learning or not?

  15. 15.

    Do you think the current society in Taiwan still favors boys? Why do you think so? Does your family favor boys?

  16. 16.

    Do you think the current society in Taiwan still places many visible or invisible limitations on the development of outstanding women?

  17. 17.

    If you were standing in front of a magic mirror that could show you what you will be in 30 years, what would you like to see?

Appendix B: Sample interview questions for teacher participants

  1. 1.

    Please describe their personality traits? Do the students in the gifted math classes have different characteristics than those of the students in the regular classes? Please describe.

  2. 2.

    In the interviews with these nine girls, they showed their preference for masculine traits and styles, how do you feel about that?

  3. 3.

    Do you think they have more masculine characteristics than average ability female students?

  4. 4.

    How do they feel about beauty or outer appearance?

  5. 5.

    The popular belief is that female students are more narrow-minded, cliquish, and prone to intrigue against each other. What do you think about this belief? Do these female students have these characteristics?

  6. 6.

    How do you feel about their interpersonal relationships? Are the gifted students’ interpersonal relations different from regular students’? Please describe.

  7. 7.

    What do you think about the female students who are good at math and science?

  8. 8.

    What are their personal goals/aspirations?

  9. 9.

    Do you think the current society in Taiwan still favors boys? Why do you think so?

  10. 10.

    Do you think the gender bias persists that math and science is not for girls in our current society? Why do you think so?

  11. 11.

    Do you think it is difficult for them to find their future partners because of their excellent abilities?

  12. 12.

    Do you think the current society in Taiwan still places many visible or invisible limitations on the development of outstanding women? Why?

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Kao, Cy. Mathematically gifted adolescent females’ mixed sentiment toward gender stereotypes. Soc Psychol Educ 18, 17–35 (2015). https://doi.org/10.1007/s11218-014-9278-2

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Keywords

  • Mathematically gifted
  • Gender stereotypes
  • The social identity approach
  • Social status theory
  • Optimal distinctiveness theory