Attitude towards mathematics among economics and business students in Norway. Is there any gender difference?
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The purpose of this study is to find out if there is any gender difference in attitudes to mathematics among students at the Faculty of Economics and Management, NTNU. More than 200 students from the three departments: (1) Industrial Economics and Technology Management, (2) Economics and (3) Business school were questioned about their attitudes towards mathematics. Using factor analysis, an instrument for measuring attitudes towards mathematics, was constructed. The method chosen was pairwise comparisons using an independent samples ttest. Research on the gender gap is mixed. Some studies show a sex difference when it comes to attitude to mathematics, while others do not find any significant gap between male and female students. Norway is one of the highest-ranking countries in terms of overall gender equality, and female students outperform their male peers at upper secondary school. Nevertheless, women are under-represented in fields like science, technology, engineering and mathematics. This is a gender equality paradox. About 50 per cent of the students at the Faculty of Economics and Management are females. The data suggest there is a significant gender difference in attitudes towards mathematics among the students. The females have substantially lower values in terms of selfconfidence, enjoyment and value in mathematics. The students can choose between practical and theoretical mathematics at upper secondary school, but even if we adjust for that, there is still a significant gender gap. This finding can explain why female students tend to select less quantitative fields and business courses that require fewer mathematical skills.