Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)




Faculty of Science

First Advisor

Joanne Lee

Advisor Role

Thesis Supervisor


This study investigated mathematics-related gender stereotypes, internalization of these stereotypes in 2nd and 5th grade children, and whether there is a relationship between internalization and the underperformance of girls in mathematics. There is evidence that gender stereotype internalization occurs throughout elementary school with an increasing impact on girls’ mathematical competence and performance (e.g., Muzzatti & Agnoli, 2007). However, there has been no definite determination with respect to the point at which this process begins. Parents and teachers have displayed gender stereotypical beliefs concerning children as young as three years of age (Lee & Schell, under review). This factor can influence children’s attitudes towards mathematics (Bleeker & Jacobs, 2004). The current study included 37 second graders (18 boys, 19 girls) and 27 fifth graders (12 boys, 15 girls). Each student completed tasks designed to measure gender stereotypical beliefs of their own abilities, perceptions of their parents’ beliefs, internalization of occupations and activities related to masculine and feminine domains, and an assessment of their actual mathematics ability. Parents and teachers were asked to complete a questionnaire to ascertain their gender-stereotypical beliefs of the students’ academic abilities. The findings revealed that children had not internalized mathematics gender stereotypes, girls did not underperform, and adults did not display stereotypical beliefs regarding children’s academic competencies. These results may be described by a myriad of explanations such as gender stereotype flexibility, girls’ equivalent or higher level of performance in academics, and time of data collection. Implications for future research will be discussed.

Convocation Year