Gender stereotypes are widely held beliefs about the characteristics and behavior of women and men.  Empirical studies have found widely shared cultural beliefs that men are more socially valued and more competent than women in a number of activities.   Dustin B. Thoman and others (2008) hypothesize that "[t]he socio-cultural salience of ability versus other components of the gender-math stereotype may impact women pursuing math". Through the experiment comparing the math outcomes of women under two various gender-math stereotype components, which are the ability of math and the effort on math respectively, Thoman and others found that women’s math performance is more likely to be affected by the negative ability stereotype, which is influenced by sociocultural beliefs in the United States, rather than the effort component. As a result of this experiment and the sociocultural beliefs in the United States, Thoman and others concluded that individuals' academic outcomes can be affected by the gender-math stereotype component that is influenced by the sociocultural beliefs. 
Gender stereotypes are inherently political; they can be used as tools for manipulating power relations between men and women. They are naturalised within society through a process of reproduction and maintenance. To this end, gender stereotypes become ‘… self-fulfilling: if we expect certain behaviours, we may act in ways that in fact create and reinforce such behaviours’.