Are Women Worse at Math? It’s Time to Stop Asking


As an undergrad at Harvard with (relatively) few resources, I used to make my pizza money as a guinea pig in psych studies. One nippy November morning, a graduate student ushered me into a small room where I was instructed to stare at an ‘X’ and perform some menial task. Unbeknownst to me, words were simultaneously flashing on the screen, so quickly that I couldn’t consciously register them. When the program finished, I called the graduate student back in. She asked me to do one more supposedly unrelated thing: take a math test.

“I’m terrible at math.” I smiled sheepishly as I picked up the pen.

At the end of the test, as I wrote down my math SAT score, I remember thinking to myself something like, “Why did I just say that?”

This study is now one of hundreds investigating the effects of stereotyping on performance. One of the most fascinating findings from this literature is the phenomenon of stereotype threat. This happens when members of a group perform according to stereotypes about them. Under stereotype threat, African Americans do worse on the GRE, women play poorer chess, and —> Read More Here


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