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Gender Differences In Mathematical Understanding In

Children part 1 Essay - 3,247 words


Gender Differences in Mathematical Understanding in Children The issue of gender differences in mathematics has been debated
since 1970s. Then the numerous research projects investigated the nature and extend of the differences between the achievements
of boys and girls and proposed different kinds of reasons of such disparities. In my essay I will continue the discourse on
mathematics and gender and examine the progress that has been made in this issue due to the recent research works. Thus, I will
review the scientific works dating from 1999, pointing out the findings and innovations introduced by the authors. Also, I will discuss
the factors that produce the influence on the state of gender and mathematics today. Additionally, I will offer my own point of view on
the issue and support it with the necessary argumentation.

Finally, I will summarize the most important points introduced in the essay and drive to the conclusions. The aim of the investigation
I will conduct in this essay is to deliver into research and gain expertise in topic area. All in all, my investigation will comprise the
following chapters: Literature Review of Recent Research; Discussion; Summary and Conclusion; and Bibliography. Literature
review of recent research The results obtained by the contemporary researchers on the problem of girls underachievement in
mathematics proved to be contradictory. One group of scientists still asserts that today girls are still inferior to boys in mathematics
(Kenney and Silver, 1997). The other group insists that boys and girls are equal though they show different kinds of abilities.

For example, Halpern (2000) in the research states that gender differences are determined by the factors of differences in spatial
and verbal abilities between males and females. As a rule, women are better in speech production while men in three-dimensional
mental rotation. Also Jacobs, Lanaz, Osgood, Eccles, and Wigfield (2002) found that task value and self-concept of ability in
mathematics diminish for males and females between first and twelfth grades and there is no difference between boys and girls
trajectories over time. And, by the twelfth grade, female students begin to value math more the male ones (pp. 277-318). And a small
group has researched that in the 21st century girls have managed even to surpass boys in mathematical disciplines.

In other words, gender difference has declined for the past few years. Thus, the research conducted by Miriam R. Linver, Pamela E.
Davis-Kean, and Jacquelynne S. Eccles (2003) proved that young women have slightly higher grades than young men, and in
particular - math school grades were higher in 6th and 7th grade for students the honors/college math class track; there were no
significant differences for high school math grades. (p.6) Thus, it becomes evident that in modern schools the problem of gender in
mathematics has a tendency to decrease and to become eliminated, or even to change in the favor of girls.

Jo Boaler, the author of the article Paying the Price for 'Sugar and Spice' Shifting the Analytical Lens in Equity Research (2000),
pointed out some facts summarizing the progress made in the issue of gender in mathematics by the world science for the period of
the 20th century. These facts are: Generally, the gender difference in mathematics achievements is very small and the same
researcher concluded that gender differences are too insignificant to be viewed as a reason for research debates. Thus, the
controversy over this issue is overplayed and glamorized by the media (Hyde, 1993),; Achievement differences have greatly
diminished over time and thus they may not be attributed only to genetic sources (Rogers, 1999); The greatest difference in
mathematic achievement exists in the most advanced levels. For example tests of the international Olympiad demonstrate gender
differences in the favor of boys (Campbell & Clewell, 1999); Mostly gender differences occur on mathematics questions. It refers
more to students problem solving and spatial ability (Friedman, 1989). Not less important in the issue of mathematics and gender are
the investigations dedicated to its origins and reasons. Generally, I think that the main reasons of this issue may be differentiated
between the following: biological reasons, that explain different abilities of boys and girls mathematical thinking due to the difference
of the constitution of their brains and the composition of their hormones; social reasons, that include social expectations and
attitudes to the level of boys and girls achievements in mathematics; cultural reasons; historical reasons, that have laid the traditions
on which we base our social expectations and attitudes to gender roles in mathematics. Brian Butterworth the author of The
Mathematical Brain (2001) investigated the biological reasons in the frames of gender in mathematics and concluded that there are
biological differences that can predispose ones better ability in math.

Though there are two recognized causes of lesser achievements in mathematics. They are: first, genetic, because A minority of
people may be born with a condition that makes it difficult for them to learn mathematics; that is, they are born with dyscalculia
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