If girls are bad at math, should we blame their mothers?

If girls are bad at math, should we blame their mothers?

Girls in biased homes performed worse on math tests, study finds. Jackie Mader/The Hechinger Report

There are loads of theories for why girls tend to do worse in math than boys, from differences in innate ability to discrimination by teachers. Many argue that our culture discourages girls from excelling at math. Now a team of economists has produced a study that calculates how a family’s attitudes about women can impede girls’ math achievement at school.

Specifically, in the state of Florida, girls raised in families that prefer boys scored lower on the state’s annual math tests than girls in less sexist families. The detrimental effects of this “boy bias” were largest for wealthier, well-educated families.  (More below on how the researchers categorized families as “boy-biased” or not.)

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