– The authors found evidence of gender similarities in mathematics achievement, despite considerable cross-national variability in the direction and magnitude of effects.
– Despite gender similarities in achievement, boys reported more positive math attitudes and affect.
– Although most national effect sizes were very small or negligible, some were small or medium, with males outperforming females in some cases and females outperforming males in others. These findings indicate that the gender gap in math persists in some nations but not in others.
– Gender equity in school enrollment, women’s share of research jobs, and women’s parliamentary representation were the most powerful predictors of cross-national variability in gender gaps in math.
– When girls develop in a societal context where women have careers in scientific research, they receive a clear message that STEM is within the realm of possibilities for them. Conversely, if girls’ mothers, aunts, and sisters do not have STEM careers, they will perceive that STEM is a male domain and thus feel anxious about math, lack the confidence to take challenging math courses, and underachieve on math tests.
– Gender equity was negatively associated with gender differences in math attitudes and affect.
– The results point to specific domains of gender equity that may be directly or indirectly responsible for gender gaps in math.
– Results are situated within the context of existing research demonstrating apparently paradoxical effects of societal gender equity and highlight the significance of increasing girls’ and women’s agency cross-nationally.
– Nations with poor economic, educational, and political welfare generally tend to report the lowest mean levels (across both genders) of math anxiety, self-efficacy, self-confidence, and motivation
– Consistent with the gender stratification hypothesis, gender equity in education is important not only for girls’ math achievement but also for girls’ self-confidence and valuing of mathematics. If girls recognize that they have the same rights to formal education that their male peers do, they may feel it is appropriate to work hard and invest in their education. Alternatively, if it is apparent that the education of girls is not highly valued in their community, it is likely that girls will not value their own educational achievements and will withdraw from achievement opportunities. If girls are outnumbered by boys in the classroom, their identity as girls becomes more salient and the risk for deleterious stereotype-threat effects is increased.