Gender and performance in mathematical tasks: Does the context make a difference?

Anat Zohar*, Anna Gershikov

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

12 Scopus citations


This study investigates how the context of mathematical tasks affects the performance of young children (ages 5-11). Subjects were 523 children from age 5 to 11. Three contexts of mathematical tasks (stereotypically boys' contexts, stereotypically girls' contexts and neutral contexts) are examined in three age groups (young, medium, and old). Boys' and girls' mean scores were compared for each age group in each of the three contexts. The data show that girls' performance is affected by the context of the task while boys' performance is not. The comparison between boys and girls in the three different contexts showed that in neutral contexts, the scores of boys and girls are similar. In (stereotypically) boys' contexts, however, boys score significantly higher than girls. In (stereotypically) girls' contexts, a significant interaction is found between age and gender, showing that the way girls are affected by such contexts depends on their age. The implications of these findings for gender-fair mathematics learning are discussed.

Original languageAmerican English
Pages (from-to)677-693
Number of pages17
JournalInternational Journal of Science and Mathematics Education
Issue number4
StatePublished - Dec 2008


  • Context
  • Gender stereotypes
  • Gender-fair education
  • Mathematics education


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