ONE POINT OF VIEW: Gender and Mathematics Contests

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<ul><li><p>ONE POINT OF VIEW: Gender and Mathematics ContestsAuthor(s): Rosalie S. Nichols and V. Ray KurtzSource: The Arithmetic Teacher, Vol. 41, No. 5 (JANUARY 1994), pp. 238-239Published by: National Council of Teachers of MathematicsStable URL: .Accessed: 17/06/2014 05:47</p><p>Your use of the JSTOR archive indicates your acceptance of the Terms &amp; Conditions of Use, available at .</p><p> .JSTOR is a not-for-profit service that helps scholars, researchers, and students discover, use, and build upon a wide range ofcontent in a trusted digital archive. We use information technology and tools to increase productivity and facilitate new formsof scholarship. For more information about JSTOR, please contact</p><p> .</p><p>National Council of Teachers of Mathematics is collaborating with JSTOR to digitize, preserve and extendaccess to The Arithmetic Teacher.</p><p> </p><p>This content downloaded from on Tue, 17 Jun 2014 05:47:20 AMAll use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions</p><p></p></li><li><p>ONE POINT OF VIEW </p><p>Gender and Mathematics Contests Rosalie S. Nichols and V. Ray Kurtz </p><p>Local, regional, state and provincial, </p><p>and national contests in mathematics certainly generate enthusiasm for math- ematics. Thousands of students are experi- encing the excitement of comparing their mathematical skills with those of other students their age. Even though reasons for the current popularity of the contest movement are uncertain, this interest does appear to be contributing to the promotion of mathematics. The movement is even contributing to the growth of local, state, and provincial mathematics education or- ganizations. </p><p>The popularity of mathematics contests may also have a negative effect. Because the number of females winning at the state or provincial levels is not even close to the number of males, we may actually be discouraging girls from going into math- ematics by encouraging a type of contest in which few of them excel. To lessen this </p><p>Rosalie Nichols teaches mathematics and computer science courses at Fort Hays State University, Hays, KS 67601. She served as assistant director for LEAP (Learning Equity Activities Project), which devel- oped lesson plans for using teaching strategies that encourage girls </p><p>' participation in mathematics. Ray </p><p>Kurtz teaches mathematics education courses and serves as the chair of elementary education at Kan- sas State University, Manhattan, KS 66506. </p><p>The views expressed in "One Point of View" do not necessarily reflect the views of the Editorial Panel of the Arithmetic Teacher or the National Council of Teachers of Mathematics. Readers are encouraged to respond to this editorial by sending double-spaced letters to the Arithmetic Teacher for possible publi- cation in "Readers' Dialogue. </p><p>" Manuscripts of ap- </p><p>proximately six hundred words are welcomed for review for "One Point of View. </p><p>" </p><p>Mathemofically </p><p>need to interact with their peers. </p><p>negative effect, we need to explore the causes of their weaker performance and to develop ways to increase the percentage of female winners. </p><p>Such social and psychological factors as parents' and teachers' lower expecta- tions of girls' performance and society's belief that mathematical ability is innate seem to hold the best explanations for the different levels of achievement. Teachers as early as the first grade are more likely to attribute boys' success to ability and girls' success to effort (Fennema et al. 1990). Boys are allowed to challenge the </p><p>rules and thus reach a real understanding; teachers often do not accept such behavior by girls (Waiden and Walkerdine 1985). </p><p>What can be done to change these atti- tudes? Because top female students re- spond positively to external encourage- ment, teachers and parents should stress to females that mathematics is important and that doing well in mathematics contests is appropriate. </p><p>Higher scores will probably result if contest coaches stress the relevance of mathematics for both sexes. Teachers of mathematics should always be alert to opportunities to suggest the need for mathematics for various professions. Role models of both genders from business and industry, the arts, sciences, and education should be encouraged to visit classes and stress how mathematics is necessary in their jobs. </p><p>Small-group and cooperative-learning activities in the classroom are better learn- ing experiences for females than competi- tive activities (Fennema 1990). Working in cooperative groups may contribute to the development of autonomous learning be- haviors, which are positively correlated with achievement in mathematics (Koehler 1990). If team events are not already in- cluded in mathematics contests, the contest leaders should consider including them. </p><p>Top female students must have opportu- nities to interact with other mathematically talented female students. With this interac- tion they see that other females share their interests and skills. In rural areas, where as few as one mathematically talented female student may be found at a given grade level, teachers should arrange op- </p><p>238 ARITHMETIC TEACHER </p><p>This content downloaded from on Tue, 17 Jun 2014 05:47:20 AMAll use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions</p><p></p></li><li><p>portunities for girls to get together with girls in another school or district to prepare for competition. Girls who have female friends who share their interest and ability in mathematics may be better able to deal with peer teasing and disapproval. </p><p>Deliberate teaching of test-taking skills may be helpful. Girls are more inclined to leave answers blank and are less inclined to guess than boys (Skolnick, Langbort, and Day 1982). </p><p>Let us not lose the benefits of the enthu- siasm for, and the involvement in, math- ematics generated by mathematics con- tests. As teachers, parents, and concerned citizens, we must continue to encourage </p><p>girls in their participation in mathematics and to look for ways that measure perfor- mance in mathematics and generate inter- est and enthusiasm in mathematics for both girls and boys. The nation can ill afford to lose any of its human talent, whether it be male or female. </p><p>References </p><p>Fennema, Elizabeth. "Justice, Equity and Mathemat- ics Education." In Mathematics and Gender, ed- ited by Elizabeth Fennema and Gilah C. Leder, 1-9. New York: Teachers College Press, 1990. </p><p>Fennema, Elizabeth, Penelope L. Peterson, Thomas P. Carpenter, and Cheryl Lubinski. "Teacher At- tributions and Beliefs about Girls, Boys and Math- ematics." Educational Studies in Mathematics 21 (February 1990):55-69. </p><p>Koehler, Mary S. "Classroom, Teachers, and Gender Issues in Mathematics." In Mathematics and Gen- der, edited by Elizabeth Fennema and Gilah C. Leder, 1 28-48. New York: Teachers College Press, 1990. </p><p>Skolnick, Joan, Carol S. Langbort, and Lucille Day. How to Encourage Girls in Math and Science. Englewood Cliffs, N.J.: Prentice-Hall, 1982. </p><p>Waiden, Rosie, and Valerie Walkerdine. Girls and Mathematics: From Primary to Secondary School- ing. Bedford Papers 24. London: Institute of Education, University of London, Turnabout Dis- tribution, 1985. 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Thousands of classroom teachers are playing an important role in building practical new assessments, with help from the woiU's leading experts in assessment^ assessments that will be benchmarked to a common national stamlaixL It w provide great !1 for states, districts and even L schools to set their own curricula within a common system of student performance standards. </p><p>JANUARY 1994 239 </p><p>This content downloaded from on Tue, 17 Jun 2014 05:47:20 AMAll use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions</p><p></p><p>Article Contentsp. 238p. 239</p><p>Issue Table of ContentsThe Arithmetic Teacher, Vol. 41, No. 5 (JANUARY 1994), pp. 236-282Front MatterREADERS' DIALOGUE [pp. 236, 263, 275]Price corrections: Reviews of "Mathematical Reasoning through Verbal Analysis, Book 2" and of "Mathematical Reasoning through Verbal Analysis, Teacher's Manual" [pp. 275-275]ONE POINT OF VIEW: Gender and Mathematics Contests [pp. 238-239]DAILY ACTIVITES FOR DATA ANALYSIS [pp. 242-245]USING MANIPULATIVES EFFECTIVELY: A DRIVE DOWN ROUNDING ROAD [pp. 246-248]CALENDAR MATHEMATICS [pp. 250-251]IDEAS [pp. 253-262]PIC-JOUR MATH: PICTORIAL JOURNAL WRITING IN MATHEMATICS [pp. 264-269]RESEARCH INTO PRACTICEPlace Value and Addition and Subtraction [pp. 272-274]</p><p>TEACHING MATHEMATICS WITH TECHNOLOGY: Mining Mathematics on the Internet [pp. 276-281]Back Matter</p></li></ul>