Stereotype Threat, Math Anxiety, and the Development of Gendered Stereotypes
Levinson, Tess G.
Both math anxiety and stereotype threat processes have been suggested as causes of gender-related discrepancies in math performance, and the two processes may use similar mechanisms (Ramirez, Gunderson, Levine, & Beilock, 2013; Schmader & Johns, 2003). We gave a 10-problem quantitative reasoning test to fourth, sixth, and eighth grade students and experimentally removed stereotype threat for half of the participants. Students also rated their math anxiety and were prompted to draw a mathematician in order to evaluate mathematics identity and stereotype knowledge. Math anxiety was higher in female students than in male students and peaked in the sixth grade. Elevated math anxiety was associated with decreased performance on math tasks. Female students performed worse than their male peers when stereotype threat was not removed, but this gender effect disappeared in the stereotype-removed condition. Both the effects of stereotype threat and math anxiety were mediated by the number of questions students attempted to answer.