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Front. Educ. | doi: 10.3389/feduc.2019.00014

Mothers and fathers - who matters for STEM performance? Gender-specific associations between STEM performance, parental pressure and support during adolescence

  • 1University of Greifswald, Germany

Research has shown that parental pressure is negatively whereas parental support is positively associated with various scholastic outcomes, such as school engagement, motivation and achievement. However, only few studies investigate boys’ and girls’ perception of mother and father pressure/ support in detail. This might be particularly essential when it comes to girls’ and boys’ achievement in STEM subjects, as girls and boys might profit differently from parental pressure/ support regarding their achievement in STEM and vice versa. This study aims to shed light on this topic and explores potential within- and over time associations between students’ perception of parental pressure/support and grades in mathematics and biology. Using self-report data from 1088 8th grade students at T1 (Mage = 13.70, SD = 0.53, 54% girls) from Brandenburg, Germany, multigroup cross-lagged models were conceptualized with Mplus. The results indicate that there are gender differences in the interplay of students’ grades in mathematics, biology and their perception of parental pressure and support: Whereas mother support plays a central beneficial role for girls’ achievement in STEM subjects as well as for the other parental variables over time, for boys mother support is negatively associated with math performance over time. Within-time associations further show that boys – in contrast to girls – do not benefit from any parental support regarding their performance in mathematics or biology. Finally, results suggest that the relationship between adolescents’ STEM achievement and parental pressure/support is rather mono-directional than bi-directional over time.

Keywords: STEM Performance, gender, Secondary School, Parental support, parental pressure

Received: 14 Dec 2018; Accepted: 13 Feb 2019.

Edited by:

Manuela Paechter, University of Graz, Austria

Reviewed by:

Thomas K.F. Chiu, Faculty of Education, University of Hong Kong, Hong Kong
Sarah E. Martiny, UiT The Arctic University of Norway, Norway  

Copyright: © 2019 Hoferichter and Raufelder. This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (CC BY). The use, distribution or reproduction in other forums is permitted, provided the original author(s) and the copyright owner(s) are credited and that the original publication in this journal is cited, in accordance with accepted academic practice. No use, distribution or reproduction is permitted which does not comply with these terms.

* Correspondence: Dr. Frances Hoferichter, University of Greifswald, Greifswald, Germany, frances.hoferichter@fu-berlin.de