# Developmental Emergence of math-Gender Stereotypes and Math Self-Concepts

**Effective Years:** 2017-2021

The underrepresentation of women in STEM disciplines is a societal problem with economic implications. Despite the narrowing of the gap in math performance between boys and girls in the past two decades, gender disparities still influence students' decisions to enter math-related careers. Young students' math self-concepts have been found to predict future choices in math-related domains. As early as elementary school--and in the absence of gender differences in math achievement--girls have lower math self-concepts than boys. Developmental scientists examining the factors implicated in women's underrepresentation in STEM distinguish two interrelated constructs. The first is the child's belief about the link between math and gender (i.e., a belief about a social group and "who does math"), which can be called a math-gender stereotype. The second is how strongly children link themselves to math (i.e., whether a child "identifies with math"), which can be called a math self-concept. This proposal is funded by the EHR Core Research program, which supports fundamental research in STEM learning and learning environments, broadening participation in STEM, and STEM workforce development.

This project will examine the development of math-gender stereotypes (Experiment 1), math self-concepts (Experiment 2), and their consequences for math motivation and career interest (Experiment 3). In experiment 1, using a cross-sectional approach, the researchers will examine the developmental emergence of the pervasive U.S. stereotype that math is "for males" in elementary school. In Experiment 2, focus will be on the emergence of how strongly boys and girls associate themselves with math (math self-concept) and possible gender differences in this developmental pathway. In Experiment 3, the project team will verify the developmental order using a fine-grained longitudinal approach, and trace the consequences for elementary school boys' and girls' motivation for math and their future career interest in STEM. Taken together, Experiments 1 through 3 will deepen understanding about when and how math stereotypes and self-concepts emerge in young children, with direct implications for the design of novel interventions aimed at reducing math stereotyping and strengthening math self-concepts.