Loughborough University
Thesis-1988-Gormley.pdf (1.58 MB)

Girls and mathematics

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posted on 2016-02-15, 15:33 authored by Oonagh M. Gormley
In this dissertation I address the issues related to why girls perform badly in mathematics. I investigate whether there is any real disadvantage that may have a genetic or biological cause. I hold that while there is some evidence for this, that in fact social factors have a much greater influence on the issue. My main argument hinges on the fact that mathematics has a "male" image and that girls and women are not willing to identify themselves with the opposite sex as this might indicate some flaw in their femininity. I examine the notion of femininity in some detail and come to the conclusion that it is a limiting and power-sapping ideal constructed largely by men. My first hypothesis is that women are willing to conform to the feminine stereotype because the crossing of sex-boundaries is abhorred by our society. My second hypothesis goes some way to explaining why little attempt is being made to change the situation. Because of the Sex Discrimination Act and women's lib women believe that they have achieved equality and so feel that there is no need for action. I claim that this attitude is not only unfounded, but is dangerous because it leads to complacency. I spend one chapter discussing the attitudes of pupils and discover that stereotypes still exist and in a manner which can only be detrimental to girls' progress. Finally I attempt to consider what can be done to solve the problem by considering both specific and general solutions.



  • Science


  • Mathematical Sciences

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© Oonagh Mary Gormley

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This work is made available according to the conditions of the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International (CC BY-NC-ND 4.0) licence. Full details of this licence are available at: https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/4.0/

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A Masters Dissertation, submitted in partial fulfilment of the requirements of the award of Master of Science of Loughborough University.


  • en

Qualification name

  • MSc

Qualification level

  • Masters

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