This paper argues for a more complex literature around gender and math performance. In order to argue for this complexity, we present a small portion of data from a case study examining the performance of Kuwaiti students on the Trends in International Mathematics and Science Study and on Kuwait national math tests. Westernized discourses suggest that girls have a harder time in math classes; these discourses frame and are reified by prominent literature and practices within the field of math education research that suggest that women and girls need help in order to reach their potential in math. These Westernized discourses stand in contrast to the discourses in Kuwait that normalize women and girls as outperforming boys in all subjects - including all science, technology, engineering and mathematics subjects. As our study shows, the reality is more complex. And, while the reality is more complex, we yet lack the discourses to understand this complexity.
- Trends in International Mathematics and Science Study
- Western expectations