Mathematical stereotype threat among gay men
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This experimental study investigated whether gay men exposed to an effeminate stereotype performed differently on a mathematics assessment than gay men not exposed to the stereotype. Additional factors, such as age, gender, ethnicity, sexual orientation, college major, college degree, year highest degree was obtained, math anxiety, math testing anxiety and math enjoyment were examined to explain any achievement gaps. Data were collected from two college campuses in Western New York, networking events sponsored by the Pride Center of Western New York , the Buffalo Gay Men's Choir , and meetings arranged from the Facebook group Gays, Bis, and Lesbians of Buffalo/Western New York . A total of 135 participants were recruited to take a survey and math test. Fifty-one completed the questionnaire and test in person, and 84 completed the questionnaire and test by mail. Three separate multiple regressions were run for three testing situations: the controlled testing situation, uncontrolled testing situation, and whole sample. Five models were considered across each data set. When gay men were stereotyped as being effeminate in the controlled testing environment, they performed worse than the gay men in the control condition did on math tasks, but it was not statistically significant. However, when controlling for one's college major, enjoyment for mathematics and anxiety in mathematics, the stereotyped group performed significantly lower than the non-stereotyped group. Additional variables also explained math performance differences among gay men, one being that math majors performed higher than non-math majors. Furthermore, participants with greater enjoyment for math showed higher scores on this math test. Participants with greater math anxiety had lower scores on this math test. Math anxiety did not mediate the stereotype-performance relationship in this study. These preliminary results suggest the need for further study with a larger sample under controlled conditions to verify stereotype threat among gay males. If these results are confirmed, they suggest that the stereotype of gay men as feminine can hinder mathematics performance and that teachers be discouraged from perpetuating these stereotypes.