Date of Award

Fall 2020

Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)


Transformative Education and Social Change

Committee Chairperson

Dana Morrison, Ph.D.

Committee Member

John Elmore, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Curry Malott, Ph.D.


Mathematics anxiety is a prevalent concern in the world of education. As a female mathematician myself, my own personal experiences led me to research the reasons why mathematics anxiety affects more girls than boys. Specifically this paper explores the basics of anxiety including its definition and causes. This definition provides a meaning behind discussing the authoritarian model of education and the importance behind creating a free democratic society, not only in the classroom but in the world. Specifically, the authoritarian style of pedagogy has many affects on students who are learning mathematics, which will be explored as one of the main causes of mathematics specific anxiety among students. The authoritarian style of education is traditionally seen as patriarchal. These patriarchal influences are major causes of the differences in observed mathematics anxiety between girls and boys. Additionally, history indicates several reasons as to why mathematics is a male-dominated field by exploring the history of females in mathematics and the many obstacles they faced in order to pursue lives as mathematicians. Additionally, the history of anxiety provides insight as to the relevance of mathematics specific anxiety as it currently exists. Several methods are proposed to help alleviate mathematics anxiety in female students including implementing place based education, empowering students with a growth mindset, and teaching students how to cope with their anxiety through mindfulness and meditation.