33 SES 01 A, Gender and STEM Education
1. Theoretical Background
Against the background of gender differences in competences in international large scale assessments like PISA (e.g., Reiss, Sälzer, Schiepe-Tiska, Klime, & Köller, 2016), in this study we were exploring students' attitudes toward gender roles as a predictor for these interindividual differences.
According to the expectancy-value theory (Wigfield & Eccles, 2002), a theoretical model which describes the process of the development of interindividual differences in academic choices and achievement, in addition to previous performance, children’s perceptions of gender roles play a critical role in the development of academic expectations and task values, which are assumed to be important determinants for motivation and achievement.
As children hold gender stereotypes of academic domains (e.g., Steffens & Jelenec, 2011), more traditional children might also incorporate these gender stereotypes into their self-concepts (Schmader, Johns, & Barquissau, 2004).
People's gender-role orientations, i.e. traditional or egalitarian attitudes toward gender roles, describe their beliefs about normative gendered behaviors like division of labor and rules of social interaction or gendered clothing (e.g. Athenstaedt, 2000; Athenstaedt & Alfermann, 2011; Eagly, Wood, & Diekman, 2000).
Previous findings point to a relationship of gender stereotypes and gender-role orientation with competences in school contexts. Hadjar, Grünewald-Huber, Gysin, Lupatsch, and Braun (2012) showed that the traditional gender-role orientation in a group of eighth-grade students was related to lower school achievement in general (i.e., to grades) for boys and girls. Steffens and Jelenec (2011) revealed that girls had a lower self-concept and lower competences in mathematics when they also showed strong stereotypes with respect to mathematics being a male domain in implicit association tests. Boys, on the other hand, had higher mathematics self-concepts and competences when they also had higher mathematics-related stereotypes. However, the impact of implicit gender stereotypes was not found for languages domains (Steffens & Jelenec, 2011). Furthermore, Plante, La Sablonnière, Aronson, and Théorêt (2013) found that sixth- and eighth-grade students’ endorsement of stereotypes in mathematics and reading predicted their grades in the corresponding domain. In line with the expectancy-value theory (Eccles & Wigfield, 2002), this relationship was mediated by their competence beliefs and task values.
In mathematical competence, boys are expected to outperform girls. In reading competence, girls are expected to perform better than boys.
Against the background of previous research on the impact of gender roles on academic performance, students' gender-role orientation should have an effect on their competence development in mathematics and reading. This effect should be moderated by students' gender.
We hypothesize that in mathematics a more egalitarian orientation should have a positive effect on competence growth for girls but not for boys. Therefore, the gender difference in mathematical competence should decrease with increasing egalitarian orientation of students. Boys with a more traditional gender-role orientation should not be affected or even benefit in their mathematical competence development. Female students with a more traditional gender-role orientation should have less competence growth than female students with a more egalitarian gender-role orientation.
In reading, boys with a more egalitarian gender-role orientation should benefit in their competence growth. The difference in reading competence growth should decrease with increasing egalitarian orientation of students. Girls with a traditional gender-role orientation should not be affected or even benefit in their reading competence development. Boys with a traditional gender-role orientation should have lower competence growth, but approach the level of girls' competence growth with a more egalitarian orientation.
Because interest as part of intrinsic motivation has been found to have effects on competences, domain-specific interest will be controlled for.
The study was conducted with data from the National Educational Panel Study (NEPS). The NEPS is a longitudinal study on education in Germany following a multi-cohort sequence design (Blossfeld, Roßbach, & von Maurice, 2011). This paper uses data from NEPS starting cohort three which started with fifth grade students in 2010. The final sample used in this study consisted of 3374 students (48.5% female). The mean age for this sample in grade seven was M = 12.88 years (SD = 0.49) and 22.7% of students had a migration background. Mathematical competence was measured in grades five and seven. Weighted maximum likelihood estimates (WLE) were used in the analyses as the indicator for mathematical competence. The mean of mathematical competence in grade five for this sample was M = 0.21 (1.13) and M = 0.93 (1.23) in grade seven. Reading competence was measured in grades five and seven. WLEs were used in the analyses as the indicator for reading competence. The mean of the reading competence test in grade five of this sample is M = 0.18 (1.21) and M = 0.83 (1.36) in grade seven. Gender-role orientation of students was measured by four items (e.g., "Boys and girls should have the same chores at home") on a four-point Likert scale in grade six. A higher score on the scale indicates a more egalitarian orientation towards gender roles, whereas lower scores indicate a more traditional gender role orientation. The mean of the gender role orientation scale in this sample was M = 2.80 (0.78). Cronbach's alpha for this scale was α = .72. Subject-related mathematics interest of students was measured with four items (e.g., “I enjoy puzzling over a mathematical problem”) on a four-point Likert scale in grade six (M = 2.20 (0.77), α = .76). Subject-related German interest of students was measured with four items (e.g., “I really enjoy learning more about myself and the world through reading books”) on a four-point Likert scale in grade six (M = 2.30 (0.71), α = .73).
1. Descriptive Analyses Boys had higher scores than girls in mathematical competences in grade five and grade seven as well as in subject-related interest in mathematics. For reading competences in grade five and grade seven as well as for subject-related interest in German there was an advantage for girls over boys. Boys had lower values in gender-role orientation than girls, meaning they endorsed a more traditional view on gender roles than girls. 2. Regression Analyses Stepwise multiple regression analyses were conducted for mathematics and reading separately. The final models controlled for gender, school type, migration background and subject-related interest. Students' gender, school type, and subject-related interest had significant effects on competence growth in mathematics and reading. Migration background did not have an effect. Egalitarian gender-role orientation had a significant positive effect for both domains. Mathematics. The interaction term of gender-role orientation and gender had a significant effect for competence growth. The post-hoc testing revealed a significant simple slope for girls. The more girls endorsed an egalitarian gender-role orientation the higher was their competence development in mathematics. No effect of gender-role orientation on competence growth was found for boys. The difference in competence growth between boys and girls diminished with a more egalitarian orientation of girls. Reading. No expected interaction effect of gender and gender-role orientation was found. Egalitarian gender-role orientation however still had a significant main effect on the competence growth between grades five and seven. Both girls and boys profited in their reading competence development from an egalitarian orientation over boys and girls with a traditional orientation. 3. Summary Gender differences in both domains were found in the expected direction. The hypothesized effect of the interaction between gender-role orientation and gender was found for mathematical but not for reading competence growth.
Athenstaedt, U. (2000). Normative Geschlechtsrollenorientierung: Entwicklung und Validierung eines Fragebogens [Normative gender role attitudes – Development and validation of a questionnaire]. Zeitschrift für Differentielle und Diagnostische Psychologie, 21(1), 91–104. doi:10.1024//0170-17220.127.116.11 Athenstaedt, U., & Alfermann, D. (2011). Geschlechterrollen und ihre Folgen: Eine sozialpsychologische Betrachtung (1. Aufl.) [Gender roles and their consequences. A social psychological consideration]. Sozial-, Persönlichkeits-, Arbeits- und Organisationspsychologie. Stuttgart: Kohlhammer. Retrieved from http://www.content-select.com/index.php?id=bib_view&ean=9783170227033 Blossfeld, H.-P., Roßbach H.-G., & von Maurice, J. (Eds.) (2011). Education as a lifelong process – The German national educational panel study (NEPS). Zeitschrift für Erziehungswissenschaft: Sonderheft 14. Eagly, A. H., Wood, W., & Diekman, A. B. (2000). Social role theory of sex differences and similarities: A current appraisal. In T. Eckes, & H. M. Trautner (Eds.), The developmental social psychology of gender (pp. 123-174). Mahwah, New Jersey: Erlbaum. Eccles, J. S., & Wigfield, A. (2002). Motivational beliefs, values, and goals. Annual Review of Psychology, 53(1), 109-132. doi: 10.1146/annurev.psych.53.100901.135153 Hadjar, A., Grünewald-Huber, E., Gysin, S., Lupatsch, J., & Braun, D. (2012). Traditionelle Geschlechterrollen und der geringere Schulerfolg der Jungen. Quantitative und qualitative Befunde aus einer Schulstudie im Kanton Bern (Schweiz) [Traditional gender role patterns and the lower educational success of boys. Quantitative and Qualitative Findings of a School Survey in the Canton Bern (Switzerland)]. Swiss Journal of Sociology, 38(3), 375–400. Plante, I., La Sablonnière, R. de, Aronson, J. M., & Théorêt, M. (2013). Gender stereotype endorsement and achievement-related outcomes: The role of competence beliefs and task values. Contemporary Educational Psychology, 38(3), 225–235. doi:10.1016/j.cedpsych.2013.03.004 Reiss, K., Sälzer, C., Schiepe-Tiska, A., Klieme, E., & Köller, O. (2016). PISA 2015. Eine Studie zwischen Kontinuität und Innovation [PISA 2015. A Study between Continuity and Innovation]. Münster: Waxmann. Schmader, T., Johns, M., & Barquissau, M. (2004). The costs of accepting gender differences: the role of stereotype endorsement in women's experience in the math domain. Sex Roles, 50(11/12), 835–850. doi:10.1023/B:SERS.0000029101.74557.a0 Steffens, M. C., & Jelenec, P. (2011). Separating implicit gender stereotypes regarding math and language: Implicit ability stereotypes are self-serving for boys and men, but not for girls and women. Sex Roles, 64(5-6), 324–335. doi:10.1007/s11199-010-9924-x Wigfield, A., & Eccles, J. S. (2002). The development of competence beliefs, expectancies for success, and achievement values from childhood through adolescence. In A. Wigfield, & J. S. Eccles (Eds.), Development of Achievement Motivation. San Diego, CA: Academic Press. 91-120. doi: 10.1016/B978-012750053-9/50006-1
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