Since 2000, surveys on academic achievement show gender inequalities in favor of girls in the school setting. The aim of the present study was to examine if gender stereotypes about academic abilities that are usually considered as fully demonstrated in the literature have to be updated. Three hundred ninety-eight French fifth graders from a medium-sized provincial town answered a questionnaire designed to examine, both with direct and indirect measures, if they hold different gender stereotypes concerning mathematics and reading depending on target’s age (children vs. adults). As expected, results showed that participants, regardless of their gender, were aware of a math-ability stereotype favorable to men when the stereotyped targets were adults. When the stereotyped targets were children and young adolescents, the math-ability stereotype was less clear. Participants believed that people think that girls succeed as well as boys in math. Concerning reading-ability, participants reported the “usual” stereotype favorable to females, regardless of the stereotyped target’s age (child or adult). Together these results suggest that academic gender stereotypes have to be reconsidered. The math-ability stereotype targeting children and favorable to both genders seems to show an improvement of the French girls’ reputation in mathematics. Moreover, the reputation of French boys in this domain seems to be poorer than reported in previous research.
Sex Roles – Springer Journals
Published: Nov 22, 2011
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