Girls = Boys in Math
In the US boys outperform girls in math. But we’re an outlier. As a Slate article describes it:
The only countries with a wider gap favoring boys are Colombia and Liechtenstein. Many Middle Eastern countries—notably Qatar, Jordan, and the U.A.E.—report a significant gender gap in favor of girls (though lower math scores overall). In Hong Kong, Singapore, and South Korea, the gender gap is miniscule, and the math scores are high. Shanghai registers no gender gap between boys and girls—together, they’re outperforming other teenagers across the globe.
Why is the US so different? Here, we see math as a male domain, and that explains a lot.
American girls have less confidence in their math skills than boys and so they take fewer math classes. But girls are also less likely to join the math, science or chess clubs, too. And all those clubs help strengthen math skills.
US boys also try harder because they think math will have a bigger impact on their lives. In Jordan girls are the ones who think that, and they do better.
And importantly, when people lack confidence their performance drops. College men and women got similar scores when they were told that men and women typically do equally well. But men did better when told that big gender differences were expected. Even taking a test in a room full of men dampens American women’s performance.
Meanwhile, Asian girls did better when they were told that ethnic differences affect math scores than when they were told that gender differences did.
Looks like boys aren’t better at math, we just think they are.