ERIC Number: ED235925
Record Type: RIE
Publication Date: 1982
Reference Count: 0
Science and the Media: Benbow and Stanley Revisited.
Jacobs, Janis E.; Eccles, Jacquelynne
The popular media extensively covered Benbow and Stanley's (1980) reported finding of a major sex difference in mathematical reasoning abilities among gifted seventh-grade students. The purpose of this study was to assess the impact of that media campaign on parents' beliefs regarding their sons' and daughters' math aptitudes. Two sets of parental beliefs were studied: (1) parents' beliefs about the mathematical abilities of their own children, and (2) parents' general stereotypes about sex differences in mathematical ability. A sample of predominantly middle-class parents had responded to questionnaires in the spring of 1979 and 1980. Approximately 3 months after the media campaign, a third questionnaire was sent to a subsample of 250 parents with children in the seventh, ninth, and eleventh grades. Included in the survey was a question describing the media coverage of the research and asking whether the respondent had heard about it. Approximately one-quarter of the parents were aware of the study. Results indicated that exposure to the media reports of the Benbow and Stanley study did affect parents' attitudes. As predicted, exposure had its largest impact on mothers of daughters and fathers of sons. Both became more stereotyped in their beliefs. Unexpectedly, media exposure also had a positive effect on fathers of daughters; whereas the attitudes of fathers unexposed to the media campaign became more sex stereotyped than before, fathers exposed to the campaign thought their daughters had slightly more ability than they had previously believed. (RH)
Publication Type: Reports - Research
Education Level: N/A
Sponsor: National Inst. of Education (ED), Washington, DC.
Authoring Institution: N/A