We all have heard of the stereotype that men are better at math while women tend to excel in languages. This stereotype has led to the teachers believing in it earnestly.
According to a study by researchers, teachers who believe male students are better than girls at mathematics may negatively impact the scores of their female students. On the other hand, there was no significant impact of English teachers’ gender bias on language students.
What Is The Study?
The researchers Sonali Rakshit from Arizona State University and Soham Sahoo from the Indian Institute of Management (IIM) Bangalore, looked at matched student-teacher data of over 9,000 Class 9 pupils from 205 schools in Andhra Pradesh and Telangana. Young Lives survey, an international longitudinal study of childhood poverty, collected this data in 2016-2017. This data was used by the researchers to create a gender bias index for teachers.
The study also looked at students’ non-cognitive outcomes such as academic self-confidence, attitude towards maths and English, classroom instructional environment, learning motives, and study effort. It also took into account factors such as the teacher’s background, training, content knowledge, etc.
Gap Between The Genders
While talking to The Print, Sahoo explained that the study was conducted to build upon existing research on the female disadvantage in mathematics. The researchers wanted to know if the teachers’ subjective beliefs played a role in the gender gap.
The findings point out that gender bias on the part of teachers had a detrimental impact on girls’ performance in maths. Not only that but their confidence and attitude towards the subject also is negatively affected. Researchers wrote, “We find that there is a significant gender gap (in favour of boys) in mathematics achievement among secondary school students, and this gap increases over an academic year.”
The Ministry of Education’s 2021 National Achievement Survey (NAS), published in May last year, highlighted that mathematics learning outcomes among girls and boys widen as they reach higher classes.
Why Is English Different?
The study also found that there was no impact of teacher bias on the English scores of the students. The researchers observed that due to the stereotypical belief against girls’ math abilities, female students are more susceptible while studying maths rather than English. The researchers said, “Math teachers may also be more expressive of their stereotypical behaviour than language teachers in the classroom.”
The researchers did not find a definite correlation between teachers’ bias and social category, years of experience, and gender. They also noted, “We find that teachers’ gender bias is significantly negatively correlated with their professional commitment, morale and satisfaction within the current job, and teaching efficacy.”
Teachers are said to be Gods. Gods never nurture bias, but humans do. The primary question arises- Are teachers really Gods?
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This post is tagged under: study, gender bias, teacher, bias, girls, boys, students, mathematics, math, english, stereotypes, Ministry of Education, childhood poverty, morale, language
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