Year of Award


Document Type


Degree Type

Master of Arts (MA)

Department or School/College

Department of Sociology

Committee Chair

Kathy J. Kuipers

Commitee Members

Dusten Hollist, Rita Sommers-Flanagan


academic, female, gender, stereotype, math, self-perception


University of Montana


Gender stereotypes continue to be prevalent in American society and have the potential to influence the self-perceptions of both males and females. One stereotype that has been particularly persistent is the belief that mathematics is a masculine subject and that males are inherently better at math than females. Despite increasing evidence showing males and females to be equally competent in the subject, previous studies have indicated that females frequently underestimate their abilities to succeed in mathematics. This study uses data from the National Education Longitudinal Study of 1988 (NELS: 88) and the Education Longitudinal Study of 2002 (ELS: 2002). Both studies were conducted by the National Center for Education Statistics of the U.S. Department of Education, and include nationally representative samples of high school sophomores. Ordinary least squares (OLS) regression is used to examine how strongly gender predicts self-perceived math ability, and the extent to which this relationship has changed over time. Secondly, OLS regression is used to determine whether or not the strength of gender as a predictor of self-perceived math ability varies among different racial/ethnic groups. Finally an analysis of covariance (ANCOVA) is used to further illustrate and explain the variation in self-perceived math ability between males and females of different racial/ethnic groups. The results of this study indicate that from 1990 to 2002, the effect of gender on the self-perceived math ability of females has remained largely unchanged, with females continuing to underestimate their ability as compared to males. The findings also show that race/ethnicity does influence the extent to which females underestimate their math ability, with African-American females being less likely than white, Asian, or Hispanic females to have self-perceptions reflective of the math-gender stereotype.



© Copyright 2009 Lorianne DeLeen Burhop