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