Through The Static

July 25, 2008

What math gender gap? Study finds girls, boys equally adept

Filed under: Culture,Gender — disciplepete @ 6:02 pm

SJ Mercury:

Girls = Boys.

A new study puts to rest one of the most widespread myths about boys’ and girls’ aptitude in math. After analyzing 7 million test scores, researchers found no difference.

The findings demonstrate great strides since the 1970s, when major studies showed pronounced differences in the scores of males and females. By the 1980s, younger students were matched – but girls fell behind when they hit adolescence.

Study authors at the University of California-Berkeley and University of Wisconsin-Madison offer several theories behind the improvements, including changes in educational approaches and career expectations.

“Stereotypes are very, very resistant to change, but as a scientist I have to challenge them with data,” said Wisconsin’s Janet S. Hyde, lead investigator of the study, published in Friday’s issue of the journal Science.

Using vast data generated by the No Child Left Behind legislation, which mandates annual testing of youths from elementary school through high school, the new study concludes that the gender gap has vanished among students of all ages.

This is an interesting tidbit:

Among math whizzes, there remain sex differences.

But they don’t add up to anything definitive. For instance, there are more white boys than girls with scores in the 99th percentile. But among Asian-Americans, it’s reversed: Girls outperform boys. (Reliable data was not available for Hispanics, blacks and American Indians.)

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