Everyone Knows Girls Are Bad at Math, Right?!
Mount Mary University
This case study explores the biology and culture of sex and gender, and focuses on the science and pseudoscience that surrounds this topic, especially focusing on math performance. The case leads students to seek out and evaluate popular culture references to gender differences and gender norms in terms of their scientific validity. Then students examine the concepts of biological sex, gender, and how these may not be the same. The scientific evidence for differences in math performance are examined and evaluated and the statistical approach to meta-analysis is introduced, as well as the phenomenon of stereotype threat. Discussion of what are "real" differences between the genders is also explored. Portions of the case are presented in the flipped fashion. The case was originally written for an introductory biology course, but could also be used in any developmental biology or human biology course. It could also be used in psychology, gender studies, or even in a general education course.
- Identify and describe perceived gender differences in traits..
- Evaluate sources for reliability.
- Describe how data on gender differences in math performance are analyzed to assess the validity of claims about gender.
- Describe and possibly counter stereotype threat.
- Read primary literature effectively.
Keywordssex; gender; sex differences; gender differences; math performance; androgeny; stereotype threat; BMI; BSRI; anxiety
Topical AreasScientific method, Pseudoscience, Social justice issues, Women in science
Educational LevelUndergraduate lower division, Undergraduate upper division
Type / MethodsFlipped, Interrupted
Subject HeadingsBiology (General) | Science (General) | Science Education | Statistics |
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The following video(s) are recommended for use in association with this case study.
- Everybody Knows Girls Are Bad at Math, Right?! Part 1
Trigger video following a girl through her education being given the message, directly and indirectly, that girls are gad at math. Running time: 6:26 min. Created by Maureen Leonard for the National Center for Case Study Teaching in Science, 2017.
- Everybody Knows Girls Are Bad at Math, Right?! Part 4
A recorded PowerPoint presentation examining studies of gender differences in math performance over time. Running time: 12:47 min. Created by Maureen Leonard for the National Center for Case Study Teaching in Science, 2017.