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Exploring international gender differences in mathematics self-concept


This study provides an international perspective on mathematics by examnnng mathematics self-concept, achievement, and the desire to enter a career involving mathematics among eighth graders in 49 countries. Using data from the Trends in International Mathematics and Science Study, this study shows that self-concept in mathematics is more closely related to the desire to enter a career using mathematics than achievement is. Further, while gender differences in mathematics self-concept are smaller in more egalitarian countries, both girls and boys have lower mathematics self-concepts and less interest in mathematics careers in these countries. These findings reveal a policy paradox: policies aimed at training the next generation of STEM professionals often highlight the need to close the gender gap, but countries with smaller gender gaps have fewer boys and girls interested in mathematics-intensive careers. We conclude by highlighting the importance of disentangling instrumental and expressive aspects of gender inequality in STEM fields.

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