Change How You Think and Talk About Math

How can we change a stereotype that is so ingrained in our society?

A good place to start is by reflecting on your own attitude about math. How can you model a belief that math is for everyone through your own words and actions? Consider math as a way of thinking and communicate this message to the children with whom you work.

Embed math concepts into daily activities and play. Provide all children with many opportunities for active participation. During group tasks, encourage children to take turns in different roles. Expose children to mathematicians and scientists who don’t fit stereotypes. For example, introduce children to a female computer programmer or a male nurse. By introducing children to female programmers, you might help young girls dream about a future career in programming. Emphasize that math is for everyone, regardless of your background.

Finally, be confident in your math ability, and the math skills you already use every day. If you aren’t comfortable with your own math skills, don’t make a big deal about it. Children benefit by watching adults persist through challenges. Work through math problems with young learners. You might learn something too! You will be setting a valuable and important example for them.        

  • Math-gender stereotype
    a belief that math is for a particular gender, such as girls or boys
    Math self-concept
    the association between the self and math
    refers to how someone thinks about their self and their attributes