The Interference of Stereotype Threat With Women's Generation of Mathematical Problem-Solving Strategies



At the highest levels of math achievement, gender differences in favor of men persist on standardized math tests. We hypothesize that stereotype threat depresses women's math performance through interfering with their ability to formulate problem-solving strategies. In Study 1, women underperformed in comparison to men on a word problemm test, however, women and me performed equally when the word problems were converted into their numerical equivalents. In Study 2, men and women worked on difficult problems, either in a high- or reduced-stereotype-threat condition. Problem-solving strategies were coded. When stereo-type threat was high, women were less able to formulate problem-solving strategies than when stereotype threat was reduced. The effect of stereotype threat on cognitive resources and the implications for gender differences in mathematical testing are discussed.