Math–Gender Stereotypes in Elementary School Children


  • We thank the schools, their directors, teachers, parents, and the children who participated. J. Aronson, S. Cheryan, G. Heyman, C. Kaiser, the members of the LIFE Science of Learning Center, and three anonymous referees provided insightful comments on earlier versions of this article. We also thank C. Fisher, C. Harris, and G. Owen for assistance. This research was supported by a grant from the National Science Foundation (SBE-0354453) to the LIFE Science of Learning Center. Earlier versions of this article were presented at a meeting of the Society for Research in Child Development (April 2009) and the American Psychological Association (August 2009).

concerning this article should be addressed to Dario Cvencek, Institute for Learning & Brain Sciences, University of Washington, Box 357988, Seattle, WA 98195. Electronic mail may be sent to


A total of 247 American children between 6 and 10 years of age (126 girls and 121 boys) completed Implicit Association Tests and explicit self-report measures assessing the association of (a) me with male (gender identity), (b) male with math (math–gender stereotype), and (c) me with math (math self-concept). Two findings emerged. First, as early as second grade, the children demonstrated the American cultural stereotype that math is for boys on both implicit and explicit measures. Second, elementary school boys identified with math more strongly than did girls on both implicit and self-report measures. The findings suggest that the math–gender stereotype is acquired early and influences emerging math self-concepts prior to ages at which there are actual differences in math achievement.