For decades, the field of mathematics has been regarded as a male territory that had enjoyed little or minimum participation from women across the globe. Gender stereotypes and lower involvement in the field have consequently led to the establishment of confused benchmarks that tend to rate women lower on performance as compared to men.
Over the course of past few years however, a number of diverse programs in this field have been introduced for the masses, in order to tackle the problem of gender differences in mathematics performance and learning. For a long time it was assumed that women scored lower on mathematics as compared to men owing to a number of factors such as limited educational opportunities and social barriers.
The question of biased instructional methods and materials was also raised, where researchers argued that the same led to a lower learning rate for females as compared to male students. Thankfully, as educational interventions were introduced into the curriculums and high schools, the idea behind stereotyped gender reports also began to change. We have seen that over the years, female education has witnessed a considerable boost.
It is perhaps in the same growth and development phase that we have given females a greater confidence in their abilities to perform better at mathematics. While previously, a number of environmental and social factors may have contributed to an inhibited learning process; in current times, women have gradually but surely overcome the gender differences in mathematics learning and performance.
According to a recent large scale study, where participants from over 46 countries were tested for gender differences in mathematics, it was found that there were no significant variations between the test scores of each. While in rare cases, male students were able to perform better, there were countries where female students took the lead in algebra.
The tests however have revealed a more complex pattern that suggests that gender differences in mathematics seem to be largely dependent upon the attitude of the student. Also, the differences will vary with different mathematical items and for different age groups.
None of the findings suggest that females in this field hold a significant educational disadvantage as compared to their male colleagues. The scope of individual assessment too needs to be accounted for while ascertaining the differences that have haunted the genders for decades. We know that educational stereotyping has limited female learning to a great extent. Now with better policies and a more stringent focus on research, we might be able to bring gender equity in the realm of education for our children enabling more equitable educational opportunities for all.
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