Women and Mathematics: Balancing the Equation

Women and Mathematics: Balancing the Equation

Women and Mathematics: Balancing the Equation

Women and Mathematics: Balancing the Equation

Excerpt

In the mid-seventies, there was growing concern that early decisions not to study mathematics in high school might be limiting the occupational options available to women. A few dramatic reports, including that of Sells (1973), fired that concern. As part of a larger program on career development, the Career Awareness Division of the Education and Work Group, then one of the major organizational units of the National Institute of Education (NIE), initiated a special research grants program on women and mathematics. Research information that would sort out the competing explanations for women's lower rate of participation seemed a useful contribution to debates about possible remedial actions. Should there be, for example, widespread development and implementation of programs designed to reduce mathematics anxiety?

As an initial step in the research program, three review articles were commissioned to explore existing research and opinions about the major influences affecting women's choices in the study of mathematics and in the selection of occupations requiring mathematical competence: (1) social influences (Fox, 1977); (2) cognitive, affective, and educational influences (Fenema, 1977); and (3) biological influences (Sherman, 1977). These papers were presented to a 2-day long national working conference . . .

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