Gender differences in student attitudes toward science: A meta-analysis of the literature from 1970 to 1991

Authors


Abstract

A meta-analysis covering the literature between 1970 and 1991 was conducted using an approach similar to that suggested by Glass, McGaw, and Smith (1981) and Hedges, Shymansky, and Woodworth (1989). This analysis examined gender differences in student attitudes toward science, and correlations between attitudes toward science and achievement in science. Thirty-one effect sizes and seven correlations representing the testing of 6,753 subjects were found in 18 studies. The mean of the unweighted effect sizes was .20 (SD = .50) and the mean of the weighted effect size was .16 (SD = .50), indicating that boys have more positive attitudes toward science than girls. The mean correlation between attitude and achievement was .50 for boys and .55 for girls, suggesting that the correlations are comparable. Results of the analysis of gender differences in attitude as a function of science type indicate that boys show a more positive attitude toward science than girls in all types of science. The correlation between attitude and achievement for boys and girls as a function of science type indicates that for biology and physics the correlation is positive for both, but stronger for girls than for boys. Gender differences and correlations between attitude and achievement by gender as a function of publication date show no pattern. The results for the analysis of gender differences as a function of the selectivity of the sample indicate that general level students reflect a greater positive attitude for boys, whereas the high-performance students indicate a greater positive attitude for girls. The correlation between attitude and achievement as a function of selectivity indicates that in all cases a positive attitude results in higher achievement. This is particularly true for low-performance girls. The implications of these finding are discussed and further research suggested.

Ancillary