Gender and Mathematics: recent development from a Swedish perspective

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


A fairly large study of attitudes towards mathematics among Swedish students at secondary level was conducted during 2001–2004. A newly developed instrument was used that was designed to capture gender stereotyped attitudes among students related to various aspects of mathematics in education and future life. The new scale and its development are described with reference to the original Australian studies. The scale builds on the Fennema–Sherman attitude scale “Mathematics as a male domain” but allows mathematics to be viewed as female, male or gender neutral, reflecting a different societal and educational situation than in the seventies when attitudes towards mathematics as a male domain were first investigated. The Swedish study shows that mathematics is perceived as gendered, mostly as a male domain, by large minorities of students at secondary level. However, the results are complex, with clear differences in responses from female and male students. Furthermore, mathematics is also viewed as female in some aspects. A comparison with Australian data shows that Swedish students are less inclined to view mathematics as a female domain than Australian students of the same age. The relevance of the study is related to the lack of equity in mathematics in education and as a professional field in the Swedish society, documented by earlier research.


  • Gerd Brandell
  • Gilah Leder
  • Peter Nyström
Research areas and keywords

Subject classification (UKÄ) – MANDATORY

  • Mathematics


  • mathematics, secondary school, attitudes, gender, Fennema-Sherman-scales, Who and mathematics
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)235-250
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 2007
Publication categoryResearch