Nosek and Smyth, 2011, Implicit social cognitions predict sex differences in math engagement and achievement


Nosek, B. A., & Smyth, F. L. (2011). Implicit social cognitions predict sex differences in math engagement and achievement. American Educational Research Journal. [Request paper]


Gender stereotypes about math and science do not need to be endorsed, or even available to conscious introspection, to contribute to the gender gap in interest, participation, and performance in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM). We examined implicit math attitudes and stereotypes among a heterogeneous sample of 5,139 participants. Women showed stronger implicit negativity toward math than men did, and equally strong implicit gender stereotypes. For women, stronger implicit math=male stereotypes predicted greater negativity, less participation, weaker self-ascribed ability, and worse performance in math and science; for men, those relations were weakly in the opposite direction. Implicit stereotypes showed better predictive validity than did parallel explicit stereotypes. Female STEM majors, especially those with a graduate degree, held weaker implicit math=male stereotypes and more positive implicit math attitudes than others. Implicit social cognitions help account for the STEM sex gap beyond what is accounted for by explicit social cognition.

Study Supplement analyses

Comparison of three contrast categories used in the IATs against math: Arts (A), verbal (V), and furniture (F).

Testing whether contrast categories interact with gender in predicting outcomes.

Correlations among self-report items that were collapsed into single measures.

Testing ethnicity and age social group differences (not reported in manuscript).


Available at Brian Nosek's Dataverse


Brian Nosek, Fred Smyth