I finally had a chance to check out that reference Puffin alluded to above, or at least the abstract -I've pasted it below for those of you non-scientists who don't know your way round PubMed. It's really interesting, but I'm not sure I understand what is meant by 'implicit stereotypes'. And what does it mean, 'self-reported' - does that mean that if a girl thinks 'girls are crap at math' it doesn't predict her performance, but it does if the country she's from generally thinks that girls are crap? Probably the answer is in the full paper, which I'll have a look at when I get a chance...but in the meantime...
National differences in gender-science stereotypes predict national sex differences in science and math achievement.
Nosek BA, Smyth FL, Sriram N, Lindner NM, Devos T, Ayala A, Bar-Anan Y, Bergh R, Cai H, Gonsalkorale K, Kesebir S, Maliszewski N, Neto F, Olli E, Park J, Schnabel K, Shiomura K, Tulbure BT, Wiers RW, Somogyi M, Akrami N, Ekehammar B, Vianello M, Banaji MR, Greenwald AG.
Department of Psychology, University of Virginia, Charlottesville, VA 22904-4400, USA. firstname.lastname@example.org
About 70% of more than half a million Implicit Association Tests completed by citizens of 34 countries revealed expected implicit stereotypes associating science with males more than with females. We discovered that nation-level implicit stereotypes predicted nation-level sex differences in 8th-grade science and mathematics achievement. Self-reported stereotypes did not provide additional predictive validity of the achievement gap. We suggest that implicit stereotypes and sex differences in science participation and performance are mutually reinforcing, contributing to the persistent gender gap in science engagement.