Essay on Breaking Gender Stereotypes

Essay on Breaking Gender Stereotypes

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“Sugar and spice and everything nice, that’s what little girls are made of.” This is a famous nursery rhyme that is recited by loving parents almost as soon as a child is brought home from the hospital. But does it serve as the backbone for gender stereotypes that permeate our society? Today women make up more than half of college graduates but according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (2010) only 13.8% serve as engineers and 24.8% are working in computer and mathematics fields. The resounding question is why aren’t women choosing these occupations? On one side of the argument is the belief that it is a scientific fact that girls just aren’t as talented at math as boys, and on the other side is the belief that girls are stereotypically pigeonholed into traditional female roles from a young age, eventually affecting their self-efficacy in math-related topics and their choice to pursue jobs in this realm (Bandura, Barbaranelli, Vittorio-Caprara, & Pastorelli, 2001; Geist, E., 2010).
Maccoby and Jacklin (1974) asserted that three specific cognitive abilities, verbal, quantitative, and visual-spatial, were at the core of gender differences. Their findings were the genesis of a whirlwind of studies designed to further research cognitive thinking and its relationship to gender differences, including mathematical problem solving (Zhu, 2007). In a separate study, Fennema and Sherman (1976) took a different route and first introduced the topic of gender stereotypes in school by measuring a student’s perception of his parent’s and teacher’s view of his ability to succeed in math, and the student’s attitude, confidence, and anxiety toward his own learning ability in math. They found that high school students felt that boys w...


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Rochat, E. (2001). Dialogical nature of cognition. Monographs of the Society for
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Snowman, J., McCown, R., & Biehler, R. (2009). Psychology Applied to
Teaching. Boston, MA: Houghton Mifflin Company.

Spelke, E. (2005). Sex differences in intrinsic aptitude for mathematics and
science?: A critical review. American Psychologist, 60 (9), 950-958.
Retrieved from http://content.apa.org/journals/amp/60/9

U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. (2010). Women in the labor force: A databook (Report
1026). Retrieved from http://www.bls.gov

Zhu, Z. (2007). Gender differences in mathematical problem solving patterns: A
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