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"Math Anxiety" Impacts Girls more than Boys

(ePharmaNews) – Although it is well established that girls and boys have similar performance in schools, a new study from the UK suggests that fear of math affects girls more than boys.

The findings of this study, published in the online journal Behavioral and Brain Function, might shed a light on why only a few students, from both sexes, specialize in mathematics in universities.

The researches pointed out to “mathematics anxiety” that students feel when they want to solve a mathematical problem, and since girls seem to be more affected by this anxiety, their results and studying choices are therefore affected.

The researchers pointed out, however, that these results do not necessarily mean that boys are better at math than girls: they found no difference in the overall mathematics performance of boys and girls.

“Girls may have had the potential to outperform boys in maths, but their higher levels of [mathematics anxiety] may have attenuated their performance,” the researchers wrote in the journal.

The study included 433 high school students who were tested to find out whether mathematics anxiety impacted their academic performance. After taking into account the normal exams anxiety, the researchers found that students who suffered a high level of
mathematics anxiety performed worse than those who did not experience such anxiety.

Compared to boys, girls had higher anxiety levels although their overall performance was not less than boys. Researchers suggest that if this anxiety was relieved, girls can perform better.

Whatever the reasons, the study’s researchers warned that because mathematics anxiety can result in poor performance, negative attitudes toward math, and even eventual dropping out of such classes, “mathematics anxiety warrants attention in the classroom.”

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Prepared by: Laila Nour

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