Is Stereotyping Contagious? Essay

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Is Stereotyping Contagious?

"Recent research indicates that the gap between male and female students' mathematics achievement is gradually beginning to diminish (Gutbezahl, 1995); however, female students are still underrepresented in advanced mathematics classes as well as in careers involving mathematics (Kerr,1994; Stage & Maple, 1996)" (Drzewiecki and Westberg 1). This should concern society including parents, teachers, and students. Carmen Keller is one that has explored the topic of a male driven mathematical field. The goal in her article, " Effect of Teachers' Stereotyping on Students' Stereotyping of Mathematics as a Male Domain" is to discover and prove one aspect to this male domain. This being,
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External influences also play a role in the gender differences found in mathematics. Keller mentions teacher-student interaction. She says even though it has been found that boys do have more interactions with their teachers, it is still unknown how important this is when learning mathematics. This is why her focus is on the stereotype a teacher may portray to the class. The teacher may base the curriculum on what they feel male and female students should learn. Though I can see where she is coming from I could not see this actually happening in a classroom. I do not think a teacher would divide the classroom boy-girl and teach accordingly. Regardless of my point, Keller reinforces her hypothesis by pointing out that if " teachers…convey their stereotyping… through classroom instruction (and) the students are aware of teachers' stereotyping…this partly affects students stereotyping." I agree with Keller and feel this is definitely true considering that most young adults are highly susceptible to influence.

Keller's research is conducted very carefully. She makes it known that she left the experiment to very few possible mistakes. In her sample she uses data she from a survey taken in Switzerland of 6, 7, and 8 grade students in public school. This is especially important in finding an overall, long-term effect because these students stay with the same math teachers during these years. Assessment in criteria of achievement, interest, aptitude and future

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