Factors impacting the achievement and participation of high school girls in mathematics

Joanne LoGrasso Timmel, Fordham University


The purpose of this study was to compare the factors of teacher, impact, student self-esteem, school culture/organization, and parental support on the participation and achievement of high school girls in higher mathematics courses in two suburban Westchester, New York, high schools. The study sought to ascertain which of these factors enabled girls to choose mathematics as a major course of study in college and as a life career and evaluated which of these factors were more resistant to change. The review of the literature concentrated on conclusions from research about key conditions which dramatically affect the performance of girls in mathematics: gender stereotypes, teacher attitudes, parent attitudes, adolescents and learning, the impact of the school culture and organization, and student achievement. This qualitative case study used attitudinal interviews of students, teachers, administrators, and parents, as well as survey and documentation of mathematics scores and courses to assist in triangulating the data. Data were analyzed through coding, identifying themes and trends in the data, and finding the emphasis and gaps in the data. Coded data were located in the transcribed field notes, extracted, condensed, and summarized. Factor analysis of the data did not lend support to the possibility that males and females differ in the cognitive level of their mathematics achievement. Data analysis confirmed the importance of parental encouragement, self-esteem, and mentoring and encouragement of a teacher as significant factors in girls, mathematical success and continuance to study mathematics. Neither all factors nor all dimensions studied were significant predictors of achievement and participation of girls in mathematics. Recommendations included further use of classroom processes that promote gender equity, increase student self-esteem, and in turn mathematics achievement. Also recommended was further research in a low socioeconomic environment, in a single-sex classroom, in a male-dominated school culture/organization, in elementary and middle school, and finally, in other subject areas.

Subject Area

Mathematics education|Secondary education|Womens studies

Recommended Citation

Timmel, Joanne LoGrasso, "Factors impacting the achievement and participation of high school girls in mathematics" (1999). ETD Collection for Fordham University. AAI9938919.