Female teachers may pass math fears to young girls. (But they get over it.)

Hat tip to David Hartman for sending this recent article to us. David’s the former host of Good Morning America and widely sought-after speaker on all things aviation and beyond.

The article calls attention to a report in yesterday’s edition of Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences in which a study of first- and second-graders “suggests female elementary school teachers who lack confidence in their own math skills could be passing their anxiety along to the girls they teach.” Lead researcher,  Sian L. Beilock, an associate professor in psychology at the University of Chicago, says because young students “tend to model themselves after adults of the same sex, having a female teacher who is anxious about math may reinforce the stereotype that boys are better at math than girls.” (Maybe moms who fear math should teach preteens, because it’s been my experience that daughters model the exact opposite preferences of their moms. But I digress.)

It’s worth noting that the math gender gap is narrowing and in fact some say there’s no such thing as a “math gender gap”. So how do we explain the fact girls and boys score roughly the same on standardized math tests until they reach high school? Until recently, girls in high school weren’t taking the same rigorous math courses that the boys were. Now that they are, scores are evening out. Yup, it’s that simple. Check out this piece from Time.

And remember what Rita-the-Eagles-Cheerleader/Mathematician taught us:

“2-4-6-8!”

“The sum is 20.”
Cheers!