Mathematics Makes you Feel Attractive. Empowering New Alternative Masculinities in the Context of Mathematics Classrooms




This article studies the relationship between masculinity construction in school and mathematics learning in boys. In this article, we introduce the variables of social interaction and the differentiation between the language of ethics and the language of desire to analyze the aspects related to mathematics learning in schoolboys. The methodology used is a literature review, paying particular attention to the techniques used in the literature and using categorization that emerged during the review to select and analyze the texts. We found several issues that seem to condition mathematics learning in boys that have to do with gender and specific identity construction, namely the dominant traditional masculinities. Moreover, this process is enhanced by the social attraction towards violence processes. However, the literature also contains elements that respond to a different model of masculinity that can be successful in mathematics learning and attractive at the same time, which is related to the New Alternative Masculinities model. We conclude with some recommendations to support this new and attractive model and to rethink research in mathematics achievement in children in the future.


Download data is not yet available.


Alrø, H., Skovsmose, O., & Valero, P. (2003). Communication, conflict and mathematics education in the multicultural classroom. In M. A. Mariotti (Ed.), European Research in Mathematics Education III: Proceedings of the Third Conference of the European Society for Research in Mathematics Education (Vol. 3, pp. 1–6). Bellaria (Italy): University of Pisa and ERME.

Asch, S. E. (1951). Effects of group pressure upon the modification and distortion of judgments. In H. Guetzhow (Ed.), Groups, leadership, and men (pp. 295–303). Pittsburgh, PA: Carnegie Press.

Aubert, A., Molina, S., Schubert, T., & Vidu, A. (2017). Learning and inclusivity via Interactive Groups in early childhood education and care in the Hope school, Spain. Learning, Culture and Social Interaction, 13, 90–103.

Bakker, A., Smit, J., & Wegerif, R. (2015). Scaffolding and dialogic teaching in mathematics education: Introduction and review. ZDM, 47(7), 1047–1065.

Ball, D. L., & Bass, H. (2003). A Research Companion to Principles and Standards for School Mathematics. In J. Kilpatrick, G. Martin, & D. Schifter (Eds.), A research companion to principles and standards for school mathematics (pp. 27–44). Reston, VA: National Council of Teachers of Mathematics.

Basch, C. E. (2011). Aggression and violence and the achievement gap among urban minority youth. Journal of School Health, 81(10), 619–625. doi: 10.1111/j.1746-1561.2011.00636.x

Bernstein, B. (2004). The structuring of pedagogic discourse. London: Routledge.

Bishop, A. (2013). Mathematics education and culture. New York: Springer.

Bourdieu, P. (1986). Habitus, code et codification. Actes de La Recherche En Sciences Sociales, 64(1), 40–44.

Bourdieu, P. (1997). Capital cultural, escuela y espacio social. Madrid: Siglo XXI.

Bourdieu, P. (2013). Distinction: A social critique of the judgement of taste. New York: Routledge.

Bowles, S., & Gintis, H. (2003). Schooling in capitalist America twenty-five years later. Sociological Forum, 18(2), 343–348.

Brahier, D. J. (2016). Teaching secondary and middle school mathematics. New York: Routledge.

Calcagni, E., & Lago, L. (2018). The three domains for dialogue: A framework for analysing dialogic approaches to teaching and learning. Learning, Culture and Social Interaction, 18, 1–12. doi: 10.1016/j.lcsi.2018.03.001

Caprara, G. V., Kanacri, B. P. L., Gerbino, M., Zuffiano, A., Alessandri, G., Vecchio, G., … Bridglall, B. (2014). Positive effects of promoting prosocial behavior in early adolescence: Evidence from a school-based intervention. International Journal of Behavioral Development, 38(4), 386–396. doi: 10.1177/0165025414531464

Carpenter, T. P., & Lehrer, R. (1999). Teaching and learning mathematics with understanding. In E. Fennema & T. A. Romberg (Eds.), Mathematics classrooms that promote understanding (pp. 19–32). New York: Routledge.

Carraher, T. N., Carraher, D. W., & Schliemann, A. D. (1985). Mathematics in the streets and in schools. British Journal of Developmental Psychology, 3(1), 21–29. doi: 10.1111/j.2044-835X.1985.tb00951.x

Castro, M., & Mara, L. C. (2014). The social nature of attractiveness: how to shift attraction from the dominant traditional to alternative masculinities. International and Multidisciplinary Journal of Social Sciences, 3(2), 182–206. doi: 10.4471/rimcis.2014.36

Chronaki, A., & Pechtelidis, Y. (2012). “ Being Good” at Maths: Fabricating Gender Subjectivity. REDIMAT-Journal of Research in Mathematics Education, 1(3), 246–277. doi: 10.4471/redimat.2012.14

Clarke, D., Keitel, C., & Shimizu, Y. (2006). Mathematics classrooms in twelve countries: The insider’s perspective. Rotterdam - Taipei: Sense publishers.

Coben, D., Colwell, D., Macrae, S., Boaler, J., Brown, M., & Rhodes, V. (2003). Adult numeracy: Review of research and related literature. National Research and Development Centre for adult literacy and numeracy London.

Cole, M. (1988). Contradictions in the educational theory of Gintis and Bowles. In M. Cole (Ed.), Bowles and Gintis Revisited. Correspondence and contradiction in educational theory (pp. 16–32). New York: Routledge.

d’Ambrosio, U. (1985). Ethnomathematics and its place in the history and pedagogy of mathematics. For the Learning of Mathematics, 5(1), 44–48.

d’Ambrósio, U. (2006). Ethnomathematics: Link between traditions and modernity. Rotterdam - Taipei: Sense publishers.

De Abreu, G. (2000). Relationships between macro and micro socio-cultural contexts: Implications for the study of interactions in the mathematics classroom. Educational Studies in Mathematics, 41(1), 1–29. doi: 10.1023/A:1003875728720

Denzin, N. K. (2016). Critical Qualitative Inquiry. Qualitative Inquiry, 23(1), 8–16. doi: 10.1177/1077800416681864

Díez-Palomar, J. (2016). Men, Masculinities and Teaching in Early Childhood Education. Masculinities & Social Change, 5(3), 321–322. doi: 10.17583/mcs.2016.2351

Díez-Palomar, J., & Cabré, J. (2015). Using dialogic talk to teach mathematics: The case of interactive groups. ZDM, 47(7), 1299–1312. doi: 10.1007/s11858-015-0728-x

Díez-Palomar, J., Capllonch, M., & Aiello, E. (2014). Analyzing Male Attractiveness Models From a Communicative Approach: Socialization, Attraction, and Gender-Based Violence. Qualitative Inquiry, 20(7), 844–849. doi: 10.1177/1077800414537205

Epstein, D. (1998). Real boys don’t work:“underachievement’, masculinity. In D. Epstein, J. Elwood, V. Hey, & J. Maw, (Eds.), Failing Boys? Issues in gender and achievement. Buckingham: Open University.

Erlwanger, S. H. (1973). Benny’s conception of rules and answers in IPI mathematics. Journal of Children’s Mathematical Behavior, 1(2), 7–26.

Espelage, D. L., Hong, J. S., Rao, M. A., & Low, S. (2013). Associations between peer victimization and academic performance. Theory into Practice, 52(4), 233–240. doi: 10.1080/00405841.2013.829724

Fennema, Elizabeth, & Sherman, J. A. (1976). Fennema-Sherman mathematics attitudes scales: Instruments designed to measure attitudes toward the learning of mathematics by females and males. Journal for Research in Mathematics Education, 7(5), 324–326. doi: 10.2307/748467

Figueiredo, H. R. S., & de Lourdes Batista, I. (2018). Mathematics History and Cognitive Values on a Didactic Sequence: Teaching Trigonometry. Journal of Research in Mathematics Education, 7(3), 311–332. doi: 10.17583/redimat.2018.2727

Flecha, R. (2014). Successful educational actions for inclusion and social cohesion in Europe. Cham: Springer.

Flecha, R., Puigvert, L., & Rios, O. (2013). The New Alternative Masculinities and the overcoming of gender violence. International and Multidisciplinary Journal of Social Sciences, 2(1), 88–113. doi: 10.4471/rimcis.2013.14

Foster, V., Kimmel, M., & Skelton, C. (2001). What about the boys? An overview of the debates. In W. Martino & B. Meyenn (Eds.), What about the Boys? Issues of Masculinity in Schools (pp. 1–23). Buckingham: Open University Press.

Fry, D., Fang, X., Elliott, S., Casey, T., Zheng, X., Li, J., … McCluskey, G. (2018). The relationships between violence in childhood and educational outcomes: a global systematic review and meta-analysis. Child Abuse & Neglect, 75, 6–28.doi: 10.1016/j.chiabu.2017.06.021

Garandeau, C. F., Ahn, H.-J., & Rodkin, P. C. (2011). The social status of aggressive students across contexts: The role of classroom status hierarchy, academic achievement, and grade. Developmental Psychology, 47(6), 1699.doi: 10.1037/a0025271

García-Carrión, R. (2015). What the dialogic literary gatherings did for me: The personal narrative of an 11-year-old boy in a rural community in England. Qualitative Inquiry, 21(10), 913–919. doi: 10.1177/1077800415614305

Gee, J. P. (2004). An introduction to discourse analysis: Theory and method. New York: Routledge.

Gelfer, J., & Organ, J. (2018). Quantum Masculinities: Doing Gender with Max Tegmark’s Mathematical Universe Hypothesis. Masculinities & Social Change, 7(3), 213–229. doi: 10.17583/mcs.2018.3470

Glaser, B. G., & Strauss, A. L. (2017). Discovery of grounded theory: Strategies for qualitative research. New York: Routledge.

Gómez, A., & Jiménez, J. M. (2018). Radical Love: Remembering Freire, Joe, and Pato. International Review of Qualitative Research, 11(1), 6–10. doi: 10.1525/irqr.2018.11.1.6

Gomez, A., Padros, M., Rios-Gonzalez, O., Catalin-Mara, L., & Pukepuke, T. (2019). Reaching Social Impact through the Communicative Methodology. Researching With Rather than On Vulnerable Populations: the Roma Case. Frontiers in Education, 4(9), 1–8. doi: 10.3389/feduc.2019.00009

Gómez, A., Puigvert, L., & Flecha, R. (2011). Critical communicative methodology: Informing real social transformation through research. Qualitative Inquiry, 17(3), 235–245. doi: 10.1177/1077800410397802

Gómez, A. (2019). Science With and for Society Through Qualitative Inquiry. Qualitative Inquiry, online first. doi: 10.1177/1077800419863006

Gómez, J. (2004). El amor en la sociedad del riesgo: una tentativa educativa. Barcelona: El Roure.

Grootenboer, P., & Zevenbergen, R. (2007). Identity and mathematics: Towards a theory of agency in coming to learn mathematics. In J. Watson & K. Beswick (Eds.), Proceedings of the 30th annual conference of the Mathematics Education Research Group of Australasia (pp. 335–344). Perth: MERGA.

Guinjoan, M., Fortuny, J. M., & Gutiérrez, Á. (2015). Análisis del comportamiento de alumnos expertos resolutores de problemas en el contexto del concurso matemático Pruebas Canguro. Enseñanza de Las Ciencias, 33(1), 29–46. doi: 10.5565/rev/ensciencias.1438

Habermas, J. (1984). The Theory of Communicative Action. Reason and the Rationalization of Society. Boston, MA.: Beacon Press.

Hart, C. (2018). Doing a Literature Review: Releasing the Research Imagination. New York: Sage.

Hejazi, E., Lavasani, M. G., Amani, H., & Was, C. A. (2012). Academic Identity Status, Goal Orientation, and Academic Achievement among High School Students. Journal of Research in Education, 22(1), 291–320.

Hiebert, J., & Carpenter, T. P. (1992). Learning and teaching with understanding. In D. A. Grouws (Ed.), Handbook of research on mathematics teaching and learning (pp. 65–97). Reston, VA: National Council of Teachers of Mathematics.

Hoogland, K., Díez-Palomar, J., & Vliegenthart, M. (2018). Towards a common european numeracy framework for adults. In B. Kelly, D. Kaye, G. Griffiths, D. Dalby, J. Evans, & J. Stacey (Eds.), Boundaries and bridges: Adults learning mathematics in a fractured world. Proceedings of the 25th Adults Learning Mathematics international conference - A research forum (pp. 64–67). London: ALM.

Hyde, J. S., Fennema, E., & Lamon, S. J. (1990). Gender differences in mathematics performance: A meta-analysis. Psychological Bulletin, 107(2), 139. doi: 10.1037/0033-2909.107.2.139

Jenner, B., Flick, U., von Kardoff, E., & Steinke, I. (2004). A companion to qualitative research. New York: Sage.

Jurdak, M., Vithal, R., De Freitas, E., Gates, P., & Kollosche, D. (2016). Social and political dimensions of mathematics education: Current thinking. Cham: Springer.

Juvonen, J., Graham, S., & Schuster, M. A. (2003). Bullying among young adolescents: The strong, the weak, and the troubled. Pediatrics, 112(6), 1231–1237.

Kazak, S., Wegerif, R., & Fujita, T. (2015). The importance of dialogic processes to conceptual development in mathematics. Educational Studies in Mathematics, 90(2), 105–120. doi: 10.1007/s10649-015-9618-y

Knuth, E., & Peressini, D. (2001). Unpacking the nature of discourse in mathematics classrooms. Mathematics Teaching in the Middle School, 6(5), 320.

Kochenderfer, B. J., & Ladd, G. W. (1996). Peer victimization: Cause or consequence of school maladjustment? Child Development, 67(4), 1305–1317. doi: 10.1111/j.1467-8624.1996.tb01797.x

Lerman, S. (2001). Cultural, discursive psychology: A sociocultural approach to studying the teaching and learning of mathematics. Educational Studies in Mathematics, 46(1–3), 87–113. doi: 10.1023/A:1014031004832

Lerman, S. (2006). Socio-cultural research in PME. In A. Gutiérrez & P. Boero (Eds.), Handbook of research on the psychology of mathematics education (pp. 347–366). Rotterdam - Taipei: Brill Sense.

Liljedahl, P., Santos-Triguero, M., Malaspina, U., & Bruder, R. (2016). Problem solving in mathematics education. In Problem Solving in Mathematics Education (pp. 1–39). Cham: Springer.

Lingard, B., & Douglas, P. (1999). Men engaging feminisms pro-feminism, backlashes and schooling. Buckingham: Open University Press.

Malecki, C. K., & Elliot, S. N. (2002). Children’s social behaviors as predictors of academic achievement: A longitudinal analysis. School Psychology Quarterly, 17(1), 1. doi: 10.1521/scpq.

Martino, Wayne, & Meyenn, B. (2001). What about the boys?: Issues of masculinity in schools. Buckingham: Open University Press.

McGrath, H., & Noble, T. (2010). Supporting positive pupil relationships: Research to practice. Educational and Child Psychology, 27(1), 79.

McIntosh, K., Bennett, J. L., & Price, K. (2011). Evaluation of social and academic effects of school-wide positive behaviour support in a Canadian school district. Exceptionality Education International, 21(1), 46–60.

Mead, G. H. (1934). Mind, self and society. Chicago: Chicago University Press.

Mercer, N., & Howe, C. (2012). Explaining the dialogic processes of teaching and learning: The value and potential of sociocultural theory. Learning, Culture and Social Interaction, 1(1), 12–21. doi: 10.1016/j.lcsi.2012.03.001

Miedzian, M. (2002). Boys will be boys: Breaking the link between masculinity and violence. New York: Lantern Books.

Morales, H., & DiNapoli, J. (2018). Latinx Bilingual Students’ Perseverance on a Mathematical Task: A Rehumanizing Perspective. Journal of Research in Mathematics Education, 7(3), 226–250. doi: 10.17583/redimat.2018.3274

Moreau, M.-P., Mendick, H., & Epstein, D. (2009). Constructions of mathematical masculinities in popular culture. In E. Watson (Ed.), Pimps, wimps, studs, thugs and gentlemen: Essays on media images of masculinity (pp. 141–156). Jefferson, NC: McFarland Publishers Jefferson, NC.

Moscovici, S. (1976). Social influence and social change. New York: Academic Press.

Moscovici, S. (1980). Toward a theory of conversion behavior. In L. Berkowitz (Ed.), Advances in experimental social psychology (pp. 209–239). New York: Academic Press.

Moscovici, S. (1984). The phenomenon of social representations. In R. M. Farr & S. Moscovici (Eds.), Social representations (pp. 3–69). Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press.

Nordin, A. K., & Björklund Boistrup, L. (2018). A framework for identifying mathematical arguments as supported claims created in day-to-day classroom interactions. Journal of Mathematical Behavior, 51, 15–27. doi: 10.1016/j.jmathb.2018.06.005

Nunes, T. (1999). Mathematics learning as the socialization of the mind. Mind, Culture, and Activity, 6(1), 33–52. doi: 10.1080/10749039909524712

Penner, A. M., & Paret, M. (2008). Gender differences in mathematics achievement: Exploring the early grades and the extremes. Social Science Research, 37(1), 239–253. doi: 10.1016/j.ssresearch.2007.06.012

Piñeiro, J. L., Castro, E., & Castro-Rodríguez, E. (2016). Conocimiento profesional para la enseñanza de la resolución de problemas en primaria: una perspectiva curricular. In A. Berciano, C. Fernandez, T. Fernandez, J. Gonzalez, P. Hernandez, A. Jimenez, … M. Sanchez (Eds.), Investigación en Educación Matemática XX (pp. 427–436). Malaga: Universidad de Málaga.

Puigvert, L. (2014). Preventive socialization of gender violence: Moving forward using the communicative methodology of research. Qualitative Inquiry, 20(7), 839–843. doi: 10.1177/1077800414537221

Puigvert, L., Gelsthorpe, L., Soler-Gallart, M., & Flecha, R. (2019). Girls’ perceptions of boys with violent attitudes and behaviours, and of sexual attraction. Palgrave Communications, 5(1), 56. doi: 10.1057/s41599-019-0262-5

Racionero, S., & Padrós, M. (2010). The dialogic turn in educational psychology. Revista de Psicodidáctica/Journal of Psychodidactics, 15(2), 143–163.

Radford, L. (1997). On psychology, historical epistemology and the teaching of mathematics: Towards a socio-cultural history of mathematics. For the Learning of Mathematics, 17, 26–33.

Redondo, G. (2016). Dialogic leadership and new alternative masculinities: Emerging synergies for social transformation. Masculinities & Social Change, 5(1), 70–91. doi: 10.17583/mcs.2016.1929

Reilly, D., Neumann, D. L., & Andrews, G. (2019). Investigating gender differences in mathematics and science: Results from the 2011 Trends in Mathematics and Science Survey. Research in Science Education, 49(1), 25–50. doi: 10.1007/s11165-017-9630-6

Rodríguez-Navarro, H., Ríos-González, O., Racionero, S., & Macías, F. (2014). New methodological insights into communicative acts that promote new alternative masculinities. Qualitative Inquiry, 20(7), 870–875. doi: 10.1177/1077800414537209

Saxe, G. B., & Guberman, S. R. (1998). Studying mathematics learning in collective activity. Learning and Instruction, 8(6), 489–501. doi: 10.1016/S0959-4752(98)00037-1

Schoenfeld, A. H. (2016). Learning to think mathematically: Problem solving, metacognition, and sense making in mathematics (Reprint). Journal of Education, 196(2), 1–38. doi: 10.1177/002205741619600202

Schwartz, D., & Gorman, A. H. (2003). Community violence exposure and children’s academic functioning. Journal of Educational Psychology, 95(1), 163. doi: 10.1037/0022-0663.95.1.163

Seckel, M. J., & Font, V. (2020). Competencia reflexiva en formadores del profesorado de matemática. Magis, Revista Internacional de Investigación en Educación, 12(25), 127–144. doi: 10.11144/Javeriana.m12-25.crfp

Shulman, L. S. (1986). Those who understand: Knowledge growth in teaching. Educational Researcher, 15(2), 4–14. doi: 10.3102/0013189X015002004

Sierksma, J., Spaltman, M., & Lansu, T. A. M. (2019). Children tell more prosocial lies in favor of in-group than out-group peers. Developmental Psychology, 55(7), 1428–1439. doi: 10.1037/dev0000721

Sierra, J. E., & Martín-Alonso, D. (2019). Relaciones intergeneracionales y construcción de las masculinidades. Pensando con “Gran Torino” y “Million Dollar Baby.” Multidisciplinary Journal of Gender Studies, 8(2), 160–179. doi: 10.17583/generos.2019.4313

Soler, M. (2008). Impacto de los actos comunicativos y nuevas masculinidades [Impact of communicative acts and new masculinities](RTD Project). Madrid.

Stylianides, A. J., & Stylianides, G. J. (2007). Learning mathematics with understanding: A critical consideration of the learning principle in the principles and standards for school mathematics. The Mathematics Enthusiast, 4(1), 103–114.

Sutton, J., & Keogh, E. (2000). Social competition in school: Relationships with bullying, Machiavellianism and personality. British Journal of Educational Psychology, 70(3), 443–456. doi: 10.1348/000709900158227

Swain, J. (2004). The resources and strategies that 10–11‐year‐old boys use to construct masculinities in the school setting. British Educational Research Journal, 30(1), 167–185. doi: 10.1080/01411920310001630017

Valero, P. (2004). Socio-political perspectives on mathematics education. In B. Atweh (Ed.), Researching the socio-political dimensions of mathematics education (pp. 5–23). Cham: Springer.

Valls, R., Puigvert, L., & Duque, E. (2008). Gender violence among teenagers: Socialization and prevention. Violence against Women, 14(7), 759–785. doi: 10.1177/1077801208320365

Villardón-Gallego, L., García-Carrión, R., Yáñez-Marquina, L., & Estévez, A. (2018). Impact of the interactive learning environments in children’s prosocial behavior. Sustainability (Switzerland), 10(2138), 1–12. doi: 10.3390/su10072138

Villarejo-Carballido, B., Pulido, C. M., de Botton, L., & Serradell, O. (2019). Dialogic model of prevention and resolution of conflicts: Evidence of the success of cyberbullying prevention in a primary school in Catalonia. International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health, 16(6), 918. doi: 10.3390/ijerph16060918

Vithal, R. (2003). Teachers andstreet children’: On becoming a teacher of mathematics. Journal of Mathematics Teacher Education, 6(2), 165–183. doi: 10.1023/A:1023960111901

Vithal, R., & Valero, P. (2003). Researching mathematics education in situations of social and political conflict. In A. Bishop, M. Clements, C. Keitel, J. Kilpatrick, & K.-S. Leung (Eds.), Second international handbook of mathematics education (pp. 545–591). New York: Springer.

Voigt, J. (2013). Negotiation of mathematical meaning in classroom processes: Social interaction and learning mathematics. In L. P. Steffe, P. Nesher, P. Cobb, B. Sriraman, & B. Greer (Eds.), Theories of mathematical learning (pp. 33–62). New York: Routledge.

Was, C. A., Al-Harthy, I., Stack-Oden, M., & Isaacson, R. M. (2009). Academic identity status and the relationship to achievement goal orientation. Electronic Journal of Research in Educational Psychology, 7(2), 627–652.

Watson, E. (2010). Pimps, wimps, studs, thugs and gentlemen: Essays on media images of masculinity. Jefferson, NC: McFarland & Company, Inc., Publishers.

Wegerif, R. (2011). Towards a dialogic theory of how children learn to think. Thinking Skills and Creativity, 6(3), 179–190. doi: 10.1016/j.tsc.2011.08.002

Willis, P. (1977). Learning to labour: How working class kids get working class jobs. New York: Routledge.

Youngblade, L. M., Theokas, C., Schulenberg, J., Curry, L., Huang, I.-C., & Novak, M. (2007). Risk and promotive factors in families, schools, and communities: A contextual model of positive youth development in adolescence. Pediatrics, 119(Supplement 1), S47–S53.





How to Cite

Diez-Palomar, J., & Mara, L. C. (2020). Mathematics Makes you Feel Attractive. Empowering New Alternative Masculinities in the Context of Mathematics Classrooms. Masculinities &Amp; Social Change, 9(1), 53–84.