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02 / 11 / 2014

Why Do Women Opt Out? Sense of Belonging and Women’s Representation in Mathematics

Journal of Personality and Social Psychology


Abstract: Sense of belonging to math— one’s feelings of membership and acceptance in the math domain—was established as a new and an important factor in the representation gap between males and females in math. First, a new scale of sense of belonging to math was created and validated, and was found to predict unique variance in college students’ intent to pursue math in the future (Studies 1–2). Second, in a longitudinal study of calculus students (Study 3), students’ perceptions of 2 factors in their math environment—the message that math ability is a fixed trait and the stereotype that women have less of this ability than men—worked together to erode women’s, but not men’s, sense of belonging in math. Their lowered sense of belonging, in turn, mediated women’s desire to pursue math in the future and their math grades. Interestingly, the message that math ability could be acquired protected women from negative stereotypes, allowing them to maintain a high sense of belonging in math and the intention to pursue math in the future.

01 / 12 / 2014

Peer Context of Mathematics Classroom Belonging in Early Adolescence

The Journal of Early Adolescence


Abstract: Classroom peer factors were examined for their role in African American and White early adolescents’ sense of belonging in mathematics classrooms. After controlling for fall sense of classroom belonging, spring sense of belonging was greater when teens perceived a more supportive peer context, minimal emotional risk in participating, and when they were recognized by peers as being strong math tutors. Additionally, naturally occurring peer groups were differentiated by sense of belonging of members; peer networks that began the year below average in sense of belonging became more alienated during the course of the year, whereas networks above average in belonging stayed at fall levels. The results are interpreted in relation to the benefits that specific peer relations offer aspects of adjustment such as belonging.