Teachers mark boys’ primary (elementary) school maths tests more favourably than girls, impacting girls’ uptake of advanced mathematics and science subjects in high school.


Research has found some teachers mark boys’ primary (elementary) school maths tests more favourably than girls, impacting girls’ uptake of advanced mathematics and science subjects in high school. Entrance rates into maths and science degrees at university level can also be traced back to the impacts of teachers’ gender bias in primary school.

Higher levels of mathematics and science education have been linked to greater employment opportunities and higher earnings, meaning a primary teacher’s attitude towards maths can have a serious impact on a child’s future success.

Teachers assume boys are better at maths

The researchers followed nearly 3000 students from 6th grade to the end of high school. As a measure of teacher bias, they compared school 6th grade test marks given by teachers who knew the students’ sex, with external test marks for the same students, but with no identifying characteristics provided. The researchers identified that a worrying number of teachers gave boys higher maths test results than girls of the same ability. They also studied the long-term effects of this bias.

The study found that the effects of teacher bias (measured by giving lower marks in mathematics for the same standard of work as boys) persisted for girls, leading to poorer results through their high school years. However, many boys whose teachers over-assessed their performance in the early years went on to be successful in mathematics and science."

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Article from: The Conversation: Academic Rigour, Journalistic Flair

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