Seeing is believing: Gender diversity in STEM is related to mathematics self-concept.

Although female students’ overall performance in mathematics is on a par with the performance of male students, female students tend to report lower levels of mathematics self-concept (MSC) than their male schoolmates. With the present study, we examined for the first time whether occupational gender diversity (i.e., a balanced gender ratio) in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) statistically predicted students’ MSC beyond well-established sources of self-concept formation as described in the big-fish-little-pond effect framework. To this end, we applied linear mixed-effects models to large, representative data sets comprising 120,270 students from 23 countries. After controlling for individual-level and school-level achievement, we found an interaction between students’ gender and country-level STEM gender diversity, with female students reporting higher MSC in countries characterized by greater gender diversity. Our results therefore suggest that a lack of societal STEM gender diversity negatively affects female students’ MSC formation and that good mathematics performance in itself does not protect female students from this adverse trend. We interpret our findings against the background of self-concept theory and research as well as psychological theories of gendered socialization. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2019 APA, all rights reserved)