A New Theoretical and Methodological Look at Gender Differences in Mathematics Tests: Reasoning, Psychosocial Attitudes, and Multilevel Models

Keywords: Ambivalent sexism, gender differences, gender stereotypes, Math performance, multilevel models, reasoning abilities

Abstract

Acknowledging that gender, as a construct, is an expression of a power structure, observed differences favoring males were explained for two standardized tests of mathematical context: the Mathematics section of the University of Costa Rica’s Admission Test and the Mathematics test from the Secondary School’s Exit Exam. The sample was 487 students in the last year of high school in ten public schools from the Greater Metropolitan Area of Costa Rica; 269 were women. Multilevel regression models were estimated using the scores in these tests as dependent variables. The reduced model only included sex as a predictor, whereas the complete model included, additionally, an indicator of reasoning abilities and the following scales: hostile sexism, benevolent sexism, attitude toward gender equity in mathematics, and self-efficacy in mathematics. Results point out that gender differences are reduced by controlling for reasoning abilities. Benevolent sexism predicted performance in the tests to a lesser degree. There was also evidence of the moderating effect of the school for the relationship between sex and the score in the admission test, and, especially, for the means in the secondary school exit test. Mathematics self-efficacy also had considerable predictive power in the latter. These findings provide evidence of the need for teachers to actively promote self-efficacy in their students, especially women. The considerable differences in the average scores of the Secondary School’s Exit Exam, even though they are all public and from the Greater Metropolitan Area of Costa Rica, suggests the presence of inequities that should be studied more in-depth, including schools beyond this area, which could reveal even more disadvantages.

Author Biographies

Eiliana Montero-Rojas, Universidad de Costa Rica

Doctora en Medición y Evaluación Educativa de la Universidad Estatal de Florida, Estados Unidos,  y bachiller en Estadística de la Universidad de Costa Rica (UCR). Se desempeña como investigadora en el Instituto de Investigaciones Psicológicas y como docente en la Escuela de Estadística de esa misma casa de estudios.

Tania Elena Moreira-Mora, Instituto Tecnológico de Costa Rica

Tania Elena Moreira-Mora, profesora asociada del Instituto Tecnológico de Costa Rica (ITCR), con un Doctorado en Educación de la Universidad Estatal a Distancia (UNED), una Maestría en Evaluación Educativa de la Universidad de Costa Rica y una Licenciatura en Literatura y Lingüística con énfasis en Español de la Universidad Nacional.

José Andrey Zamora-Araya, Universidad Nacional

Maestría Académica en Estadística de la Universidad de Costa Rica, Maestría en Economía del Desarrollo de la Universidad Nacional, Licenciatura en Enseñanza de la Matemática de la Universidad Nacional. Profesor en la Escuela de Estadística de la UCR, profesor e investigador en la Escuela de Matemáticas de la UNA.

Vanessa Smith-Castro, Universidad de Costa Rica

Doctora en Psicología Social en la Universidad Philipps de Marburg, Alemania. Profesora catedrática de la Escuela de Psicología de la Universidad de Costa Rica y directora del Instituto de Investigaciones Psicológicas de esa misma casa de estudios. Sus intereses incluyen las cogniciones sociales, las relaciones intergrupales, y los métodos cuantitativos de investigación.

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Published
2021-01-01
How to Cite
Montero-Rojas, E., Moreira-Mora, T., Zamora-Araya, J., & Smith-Castro, V. (2021). A New Theoretical and Methodological Look at Gender Differences in Mathematics Tests: Reasoning, Psychosocial Attitudes, and Multilevel Models. Revista Electrónica Educare, 25(1), 1-21. https://doi.org/10.15359/ree.25-1.8
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Articles (Peer Reviewed Section)

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