Girls math performance under stereotype threat: The moderating role of mothers gender stereotypes

This study examined the influence of parents beliefs on susceptibility to stereotype threat. Data were collected from girls, mothers, and fathers in 124 families. Parents were asked to indicate their degree of agreement with two questions regarding gender stereotypes: Usually boys are more talented than girls at math, and Usually girls are better at arts and language than at math. The children completed two tasks in succession. First, they listened to a passage that was gender stereotypical (stereotype threat) or had no human characters (control) and then completed a drawing depicting the story. Second, they completed an age-appropriate math test and the explicit stereotype-awareness task. The majority of children stated that girls and boys are equally good at math. Results showed that girls performed more poorly on the math test in the stereotype threat compared with the control condition. However, this effect was qualified by considering mothers (but not fathers) gender stereotypes. Specifically, the stereotype threat manipulation harmed performance on the math test only for children whose mothers endorsed gender stereotypes. The manipulation had no effect on children whose mothers rejected gender stereotypes. These results occurred even though children rejected gender stereotyping, suggesting that mothers acceptance of gender stereotypes plays an important role in determining whether children are vulnerable to stereotype threat.

Tomasetto, C., Romana Alparone, F., & Cadinu, M. (2011). Girls math performance under stereotype threat: The moderating role of mothers gender stereotypes. Developmental Psychology, 47(4), 943-949.

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