Sex Roles

, Volume 41, Issue 3–4, pp 219–240 | Cite as

Influence of Item Content and Stereotype Situation on Gender Differences in Mathematical Problem Solving

  • Margaret Walsh
  • Crystal Hickey
  • Jim Duffy


On standardized tests of mathematical problemsolving, the typical finding has been that women scorelower than men. Experiment 1 manipulated gender labeling(female character, male character, or gender neutral) within the problem question to seewhether this accounted for gender differences inmathematical problem solving. Sixty-four seventh andeighth graders were tested on modified versions of theCanadian Test of Basic Skills (CTBS) with the resultsshowing that although gender labeling affected studentsperformance, it did not account for gender differences.Experiment 2 manipulated both gender labeling and gender stereotype threat for 174 universitystudents writing modified versions of a modelStandardized Achievement Test (SAT). Again, genderlabeling within problem questions did not account forgender differences. However, women scored lower thanmen when they believed that the test had previouslyshown gender differences. There was no gender differencein the performance of the same women and men when they believed that the test was merelycomparing Canadian students with American students. Thissuggests that gender stereotype threat could be a keyfactor in explaining gender differences in mathematical problem solving.


Gender Difference Social Psychology Standardize Test Mathematical Problem Modify Version 
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Copyright information

© Plenum Publishing Corporation 1999

Authors and Affiliations

  • Margaret Walsh
  • Crystal Hickey
  • Jim Duffy

There are no affiliations available

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