Navigation Links
Gender gap persists at highest levels of math and science testing
Date:7/6/2010

DURHAM, N.C. -- A study that examined 30 years of standardized test data from the very highest-scoring seventh graders has found that performance differences between boys and girls have narrowed considerably, but boys still outnumber girls by more than about 3-to-1 at extremely high levels of math ability and scientific reasoning.

At the same time, girls slightly outnumber boys at extremely high levels of verbal reasoning and writing ability.

Except for the differences at these highest levels of performance, boys and girls are essentially the same at all other levels of performance.

The findings come from a study performed by Duke University's Talent Identification Program, which relies on SAT and ACT tests administered to the top 5 percent of 7th graders to identify gifted students and nurture their intellectual talents. There were more than 1.6 million such students in this study.

Researchers Jonathan Wai, Megan Cacchio, Martha Putallaz and Matthew C. Makel focused in particular on gifted seventh graders who scored 700 or above on the SAT's math or verbal tests, which is higher than most high school juniors score.

Among these students at the very top of the performance curve, the differences in verbal and mathematical performance have maintained a persistent gender gap over the last 15 years, said Jonathan Wai, a post-doctoral research associate at Duke TIP, and lead author on a paper appearing in the July/August issue of the journal Intelligence.

The ratio of 7th graders scoring 700 or above on the SAT-math was about 13 boys to 1 girl when it was measured in a landmark study 30 years ago, but that ratio dropped dramatically in the 1990s, Wai said. Since 1995, the gap has remained steady at about 4 boys to 1 girl.

The top scores on scientific reasoning, a relatively new section of the ACT that was not included in the earlier study, show a similar ratio of boys to girls.

Much has been said and written about the small numbers of women found in top positions in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM), and there are probably many social and cultural reasons for that gap, said Wai. But there do appear to be some real differences in math and science reasoning that may factor into the disparity.

"Our research only serves to inform the debate," Wai said. "It's apparent that there are still differences in ability levels due to gender, even as women have occupied more STEM jobs in the last 30 years. We will continue our research, but for now it seems that ability is still a factor in the equation."

In earlier work that examined how many of these talented youngsters went on to earn Ph.D.s, publications, patents and tenured professorships, Wai and his colleagues at Vanderbilt University, David Lubinski and Camilla Benbow, found that differences in math ability did seem to affect what happened 20 years down the road. "Differences in ability within the top 1 percent make a difference in predicting real world achievement in STEM and other areas," Wai said. "What matters is ability, not the sex of the individual, in predicting these outcomes."

Acknowledging that there are some differences in ability might further the efforts to get more women into math and science, Wai said. For example, it would be good to know more about what made the test performance gap close so dramatically between 1981 and 1995. "Perhaps that's something we could use."

The research team, which included Megan Cacchio, a 2006 Duke graduate who started this study as her undergraduate honors thesis, also looked at 13 years worth of SAT and ACT data for U.S. high school students. They found a similar pattern among the top performers. In 2009, males scoring a perfect 800 on the SAT-math outnumbered females about 2 to 1.

"Even though there are more female role models in math and science now than 30 years ago and sex biases may have eased, we're still seeing these differences among the most talented students," Wai said. The current study doesn't address how those differences might affect a person's career path directly, but "interests and preferences are probably more important than abilities," he said.

"The more important question is whether these differences explain any of the gender differences in career choices and the kinds of behaviors linked to career success, and if so how much," said Jacquellyne Eccles, McKeachie-Pintrich Distinguished University Professor of Psychology and Education at the University of Michigan, and director of the Gender & Achievement Research Program. "This is a very hard question to answer when the social and cultural forces influencing career choices and persistence/engagement are also very strong."


'/>"/>

Contact: Karl Leif Bates
karl.bates@duke.edu
919-681-8054
Duke University
Source:Eurekalert

Related medicine news :

1. Study finds gender gap persists in cardiac care
2. Beating Heart Differs by Gender, Age: Study
3. Anti-Drinking Ads That Engender Guilt May Not Work
4. New Gender-Neutral Flex-Friendly Certification Makes the Business Case for Flex Even in a Tough Economy.
5. Gender Gaps Persist in Pay at Academic Medical Centers
6. New UCSF Studies Reveal that Age-Related Nerve Decline is Associated with Inflammation and Differs by Gender
7. Even 9-Month-Olds Choose Gender-Specific Toys
8. Myth Debunked: Baby Shower Gifts CAN Be Personalized Without Knowing Name Or Gender
9. Gender Differences Show in Risk of Narcotic Abuse
10. Substance Abuse in Mexican Americans Differs by Gender
11. Babies Responses to Prenatal Stress Differ by Gender
Post Your Comments:
*Name:
*Comment:
*Email:
(Date:12/8/2016)... (PRWEB) , ... December 08, 2016 , ... ... Donuts Franchising Company LLC, announced the first national #QuackGivesBack campaign which supported ... , “This was our first franchise-wide Quack Gives Back initiative, and ...
(Date:12/8/2016)... ... ... CURE Media Group, the nation’s leading digital and print media enterprise focused ... in efforts to combat lung cancer, announced CURE Media Group President Michael J. Hennessy, ... is honored to team up with Upstage Lung Cancer in order to make major ...
(Date:12/8/2016)... ... December 08, 2016 , ... SunView ... customers and employees that are both engaging and easy to use. Coming off ... the software company revealed today its plans to roll out new AI-powered self-service ...
(Date:12/8/2016)... ... , ... STAT courier is pleased to announce that due to customer demand, ... expanding their presence in Dallas. One of the most exciting parts for STAT is ... the Dallas and Forth Worth market. STAT takes pride in treating their employees with ...
(Date:12/8/2016)... ... 08, 2016 , ... Vida Health, the digital health platform that ... Canvas Ventures . Other investors include Nokia Growth Partners (NGP) and returning investor ... more consumers who are managing chronic conditions or simply want to improve ...
Breaking Medicine News(10 mins):
(Date:12/8/2016)... Dec. 8, 2016  EIP Pharma, LLC ( ... proof-of-mechanism for neflamapimod (previously code named VX-745), with ... clinical trials that demonstrated significant Alzheimer,s disease relevant ... treatment) and Study 303 (6-week treatment) are the ... Alzheimer,s Disease (CTAD) scientific conference in ...
(Date:12/8/2016)... A Small Business Innovative Research (SBIR) grant ... (NIH) to Phoenix -based NeuroEM Therapeutics, ... grant will seek to determine an optimal set of ... waves to treat Alzheimer,s Disease. The grant will also ... treat other neurologic disorders such as Parkinson,s Disease and ...
(Date:12/8/2016)... New York , December 8, 2016 ... global Diabetes Injection Pens Market is expected to ... compared to US$4.9 bn in 2015. Between the forecast years ... rise at a CAGR of 7.9%. The leading players operating ... A/S, Eli Lilly and Company, AstraZaneca plc., Biocon Ltd., and ...
Breaking Medicine Technology: