The myth that only brilliant people are good at math and its implications for diversity

Eleanor K. Chestnut, Ryan F. Lei, Sarah Jane Leslie, Andrei Cimpian

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Abstract

A common misconception about math is that it requires raw intellectual talent or “brilliance.” Only students who possess this sort of brilliance are assumed to be capable of success in math-related subjects. This harmful myth has far-reaching consequences for the success of girls and children from ethnic-minority backgrounds in these subjects. Because women and minorities are stereotyped as lacking brilliance, the myth that success in math requires this trait is a barrier that students from these groups have to overcome. In the first part of this paper, we detail the pervasiveness of this myth and explore its relation to gender and race gaps in math and beyond. In the second part, we highlight some potential sources of this myth in children’s everyday experiences and offer some strategies for debunking it.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number65
JournalEducation Sciences
Volume8
Issue number2
DOIs
StatePublished - Jun 1 2018

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myth
Race Relations
Students
Aptitude
Interpersonal Relations
everyday experience
national minority
student
minority
gender
Group

Keywords

  • Brilliance
  • Gender gaps
  • Giftedness
  • Mindsets
  • Race gaps
  • Stereotypes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Education
  • Public Administration
  • Developmental and Educational Psychology

Cite this

The myth that only brilliant people are good at math and its implications for diversity. / Chestnut, Eleanor K.; Lei, Ryan F.; Leslie, Sarah Jane; Cimpian, Andrei.

In: Education Sciences, Vol. 8, No. 2, 65, 01.06.2018.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Chestnut, Eleanor K. ; Lei, Ryan F. ; Leslie, Sarah Jane ; Cimpian, Andrei. / The myth that only brilliant people are good at math and its implications for diversity. In: Education Sciences. 2018 ; Vol. 8, No. 2.
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