In English-speaking, Western countries, mathematics has traditionally been viewed as a “male domain”, a discipline more suited to males than to females. Recent data from Australian and American students who had been administered two instruments [Leder & Forgasz, in Two new instruments to probe attitudes about gender and mathematics. ERIC, Resources in Education (RIE), ERIC document number: ED463312, 2002] tapping their beliefs about the gendering of mathematics appeared to challenge this traditional, gender-stereotyped view of the discipline. The two instruments were translated into Hebrew and Arabic and administered to large samples of grade 9 students attending Jewish and Arab schools in northern Israel. The aims of this study were to determine if the views of these two culturally different groups of students differed and whether within group gender differences were apparent. The quantitative data alone could not provide explanations for any differences found. However, in conjunction with other sociological data on the differences between the two groups in Israeli society more generally, possible explanations for any differences found were explored. The findings for the Jewish Israeli students were generally consistent with prevailing Western gendered views on mathematics; the Arab Israeli students held different views that appeared to parallel cultural beliefs and the realities of life for this cultural group.
Helen J. Forgasz and David Mittelberg have written an article called Israeli Jewish and Arab students’ gendering of mathematics. The article was recently published online in ZDM. Here is a copy of their article abstract: