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Research and theoretical papers
Published: 11-02-2019

Closing the Gender Gap in Math Confidence: Gender and Race/Ethnic Similarities and Differences

Kansas State University

Chardie L Baird

Department of Sociology, Anthropology, and Social Work

Associate Professor of Sociology

Executive Director of the Kansas State Office for the Advancement of Women in Science and Engineering (KAWSE)

Spainhour Family Chair

University of Nevada Las Vegas

Jennifer Reid Keene

Professor of Sociology
gender confidence math STEM race/ethnicity


This paper uses data from the U.S.-based Education Longitudinal Study, 2002 (ELS02) to examine gender and race/ethnic similarities and differences in high achieving math students’ confidence in their math ability. Previous research indicates that negative cultural beliefs about gender and math ability lead young women to evaluate themselves as less competent at math than young men do, even when their achievements are the same or higher. However, groups who face negative cultural beliefs based on their race/ethnicity do not lack confidence. We examine math confidence across and within gender and race/ethnic groups among students with “As” in their high school math classes. OLS regression results demonstrate that young women of all race/ethnicities have lower math confidence than young men, even when they have the same level of math achievement. Young women who are Asian have less math confidence than all other students. Finally, the math confidence of all young women who have As in their math classes, except for young women who are Asian, converges with young men’s math confidence when the effects of standardized tests on math confidence vary for students who are Asian and the effects of math GPAs vary for young women and students who are Asian.

How to Cite

Baird, C. L., & Keene, J. R. (2019). Closing the Gender Gap in Math Confidence: Gender and Race/Ethnic Similarities and Differences. International Journal of Gender, Science and Technology, 10(3), 378–410. Retrieved from