Why is it that females are often less mathematically-inclined than males? According to a one-year study at the University of Chicago (Beilock, et al), the discrepancy could largely be related to their early-childhood teachers’ attitude towards the subject.
The study found that female elementary teachers can subconsciously demonstrate anxiety about math and pass that on to their female students, since girls’ attitudes about math are formed at a young age and are heavily influenced by the attitudes of the women who instruct them. The study showed that boys were not similarly influenced by their female teachers’ unspoken preferences.
Since nine out of ten U.S. elementary school teachers are female, the authors recommend that elementary teachers undergo greater mathematics preparation in order to feel more comfortable with the subject. Female teachers’ subject-area confidence would presumably then be passed on to female students.