Why Stereotype Threat Keeps Girls Out of Math and Science, and What to Do About It

Girls are still lagging in the classroom when it comes to math – which has a big impact on tomorrow’s workforce, especially considering the important role the technology industry will play in the economy of the future. According to a recent study by the University of Washington, one potential culprit for girls’ underperformance is gender-stereotyping. Lead author Dario Cvencek explained, “Not only do girls identify the stereotype that math is for boys, but they apply that to themselves. That’s the concerning part. Girls are translating that to mean, ‘Math is not for me.’”

But why do girls believe that? It’s (hopefully) not as if their teacher is standing at the blackboard telling them that girls aren’t supposed to be good at math. Is it the media? Is it parents or peers? In fact, it’s likely a combination of these factors – and one more: themselves.