Girls = Boys in Math

200872411In 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?

US boys do 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.

Also, in the US we see math as a male domain, and that explains a lot.

Historically, American girls have had less confidence in their math skills than boys and have taken 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.

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.

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About BroadBlogs

I have a Ph.D. from UCLA in sociology (emphasis: gender, social psych). I currently teach sociology and women's studies at Foothill College in Los Altos Hills, CA. I have also lectured at San Jose State. And I have blogged for Feminispire, Ms. Magazine, The Good Men Project and Daily Kos. Also been picked up by The Alternet.

Posted on June 23, 2017, in gender, psychology and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 60 Comments.

  1. I think this comes down to gender norms that society has set in place, that continue to “thrive” in American societal setting. In other countries, STEM is not a field designated for men, STEM is a field for all. In the sense of, in other countries, parents want their children to thrive and do well, regardless of gender. They push their children equally as much regardless of if they are boys or girls or anyone else, because before anything else, they want their kid to be good and to excel. Here in the states, society has continuously pushed the idea that STEM is male dominated and therefore is for men. People in the states tend to push their sons more than their daughters. Instead of looking at it in the form of wanting their children to be good regardless of gender, they unconsciously look at gender first.

  2. In other countries, such as in China, there are different attitudes towards gender and its relation to math. For example, my mother grew up in China, where math is emphasized in education for both girls and boys. Math was not seen as a subject for boys, and instead it was seen as a subject that anyone can master given proper education and effort. I think the attitudes of the educational system and the teachers are significantly influential on girls’ attitudes and beliefs in themselves in the subject of math. Many industries, such as those in STEM areas, are still dominated by males. This may be due to society’s attitude that such subjects are meant for boys rather than girls. This idea becomes ingrained in young students’ minds and this hinders their ability to perform well in math. The educational system needs to promote the idea that boys are not inherently better at math, and that boys and girls can confidently succeed in math. Additionally, the location of the school and the culture of the area can affect attitudes. For example, I have noticed that in the Bay Area, both girls and boys are encouraged to pursue STEM areas.

  3. Math, the most complex subject of them all. At least to me. It’s interesting because it is always as if we think males dominant almost everything. Who’s stronger? Males. Who are the ones that invent? Males. Who are the ones who are always portrayed as the one who can save everything? Males. At least that’s what we were taught to believe. It’s like a real life brain wash that has been going on, but wasn’t true for all cultures. Though in different countries, the thought of women being good at anything other than being a traditional wife (according to society) is just not possible. In a lot of movies there are clubs in high school or college, all the males are in math or science. While the girls are the cheerleaders, or just the pretty looking ones. Clearly time is changning and we will continue to wait for female geniuses to get their recognition they deserve.

  4. I am so grateful I read this post! I have read so many articles about the differences between boys and girls and whether nature or nurture plays a role in the imbalance between the two genders in mathematical fields. None of these articles have mentioned that the United States is the outlier. This is incredibly important as it shows that women can thrive in STEM fields. One of the main issues, which you mentioned, is the learning environment in the United States. Many girls are told at a young age that math is for men so they are not confident in their abilities. This is one of the perks of going to an all-girls school. Typically in co-ed school’s teachers teach to the boys in the class. This happens because boys require more attention than girls in an academic environment and therefore girls are not given the same type of encouragement. I believe if we want anything to change girls and boys need to be raised in a way that encourages both of them to become whatever they want to be and not treat one gender a certain way because they are expected to do better or worse at any given activity.

  5. It’s interesting that the gender gap in math doesn’t favor boys all around the world. Through high school in the Bay Area, girls and boys were equally encouraged to join math and science clubs; our highest level math classes were even taught by women. Though it wasn’t discouraged for a girl to join, personally, as a female it was daunting to join a math or science club that I knew was mostly male or didn’t have one of my female friends in it. I am biased towards the arts, so this skews my own choices, but looking at my friends who did go into STEM fields, few to none of them joined any of these clubs. In regards to STEM stereotyping, I think my school had less of the gender skew and more of the ethnic skew. Having a large Asian population at my school, I think there was a similar effect to what was stated in this post, that Asian girls did perform the same or better than boys knowing the stereotype that Asians are good at math. However, this negatively affected those girls who were not bad at math but just not interested in it, because they felt like they were letting someone down by not going to the highest level they could in the STEM programs at school (while excelling at something else). I think humans all have the same capabilities and it’s just their environment that determines their performance.

  6. I think it’s very sad that because of stereotypes and some believes the girls who did fine with math at school sometimes don’t even think about choosing a STEM career.

    I can relate it to myself as well. When I was at school (a very long time ago) I did equally fine with math and non-science classes. When it was time to choose the university I haven’t even thought about pursuing STEM career as I had this limiting belief that I was just the girl and that would be too hard for me to study.

    Now, after almost 16 years after school, I am pursuing a diploma in CS. It’s a challenging degree, but I don’t think that it’s harder or easier for me than for any other person in my classes.

    I believe that it’s extremely important to educate young girls, young boys and especially their parents and grandparents that there is no such thing as “boys are naturally better in math as girls.”

  7. I find the evidence in this article as a thought-provoking way to understand the significance a culture plays in the outcome of a gender’s role and the society. While the countries Hong Kong and U.A.E. encourage girls in subjects like math, America does not. This lack of support in America has caused a gap in performance levels among girls and boys and much lower standardized test scores leading other countries to outperform. I have read many studies which prove that around the time of elementary school, girls become conscious of the norms surrounding their gender and learn of the socially-held belief of their inferiority to boys. For example, females stop raising their hands in the classroom with the fear of being judged for having an “incorrect” opinion thus giving male peers the widespread ability to express their own. The American society likewise does not promote the idea of girls in the STEM fields, even though they are capable of achieving high scores, which leaves it primarily male-dominated and alters the dynamics of socialization. As stated in this article, “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.” I believe this is a phenomenon which has become affected by the viewpoints of the larger culture and further shows that it may rather be negatively impacting the country, America, as a whole.

    • Too much confusion in all the comments here between average performance, and STEM performance. Males and females have roughly the same mean IQ, but males are a far higher standard deviation. Since STEM is dominated by people on the tail end of the upper IQ distribution, we expect to find more males in STEM. Talking about average math performance in schools has literally nothing to do with the elite of the elite who go on to high performing careers.

      • The brain is shaped by nature and nurture. Our social experiences actually affect the structure of our brains. There are a number of things that tend to help American men including the fact that parents are more likely to play number games with their boys than their girls, boys are more likely to join chess club, science club, math club, our society believes that males are better at math and science than females which helps their confidence and performance, and hurts girls confidence and performance. A study of Asian women is interesting here. Asians have a positive stereotype that they are better at math than other ethnicities but women in America have a stereotype that men are better at math. So Asian American girls were put into two groups. One was told they were doing a math test to see how well different ethnicities performed compared to one another and the other group was told they were doing a math test to see how males and females performed compared to one another. The women who were part of the “ethnic” study did better.

      • In the United States, our brains are 80% nature, 20% nurture. We know this from twin studies, both IQ results and results of other psychological traits of twins separated at birth.

        But even that 20% is misleading, because that 20% environment is actually an environment which is the physical manifestation of our nature. For example, if your parents are intellectuals and have an intellectual environment, that’s not the mere happenstance of environment, that’s also an outworking of your parents nature and genetics. Once you start taking that into account, there’s very little room for environment at all.

        As for Asians and math, it is true that Chinese have no gender difference in average math scores. However again, there are 10x more males who score more than 140/150 on the Chinese College Math entrance examination. So I’m afraid appealing to Asians doesn’t escape the fact that males have a higher standard deviation in intellectual performance, which means we would expect mathematicians to be mostly male, given that you don’t get to be a mathematician by being average at math, but by being exceptionally talented at math. Logic would dicate that if average math performance in China has no gender difference, then there can’t be a cultural discouragement for females doing math. Ergo, it must be the male variability hypothesis.

        Click to access 2007-tsui.pdf

      • No. Humans are 50% nature, 50% nurture.

        By collating almost every twin study across the world from the past 50 years, researchers determined that the average variation for human traits and disease is 49% due to genetic factors and 51% due to environmental factors.

        Boys do better in only about ½ of the OECD nations.

  8. The same thing is happening in Japan. I don’t remember when and who told me that boys do math better than girls. In addition, almost all math teacher I knew were men. Therefore, I thought math is for men. When I heard the fact for the first time I gave up studying math. However, according to this article, this is not true. I was very surprised the fact that Asian girls did better when they were told that ethnic differences affect math scores than when they were told that gender differences did. After reading this article, I regretted that I gave up math. If I had kept studying math hard, I would have more choices of universities and jobs. It narrows opportunities not to study math. I think we should stop this current and tell students it is not true. That might promote men and women to have equal opportunities to get jobs.

  9. With a good experience in calculus 1AH at Foothill, I am confident about the opinion that I will put regarding this topic. I agree with what the passage said. I believe that men and women perform equally well in math. This is because math tests your ability to solve math problems rather than muscle strength which goes in favor of men. However, I will say that there are more males than females in math class. For example, in the Math 1AH class, I am taking right now, there seem to be much more males than females. This may explain why males are expected to do well in math than girls. It has more to do with the targeted audience than anything else. Like if there are a majority of certain group people who are doing this, then it is likely that the overall goal will be based on the preference of that group that has the majority of people in it.

    • In America we have a belief that men are better at math and so many perform better st it here. But where women are thought to be just as good that doesn’t happen. Probably due to stereotype threat. People believe they are not good, loose confidence, and perform worse.

  10. This has been something that has come up often when I think about career paths and what I have seen in school. It is very common to see more men in a math oriented class or career and when there’s a woman, there’s the reaction of surprise, as if women cannot be good at math. It’s intimidating to be one of the few women in a field and when a young girl sees that a field is filled with men, she may think it’s not for her. Or that she may not be good at it just because she’s a girl. When we see the famous scientists across history, and even now, it’s very common to see a male rather than a female. And even then, a woman’s accomplishments are usually downplayed and maybe not even taught. That leads to a lot of girls losing confidence in their abilities, which is really unfair.

  11. Throughout my education I have noticed the trend of boys outperforming girls in math, especially in the later years when it became notable that many more boys chose to take math and science classes than girls did. Growing up, it always seemed that math was portrayed as a more boy oriented area of study. Those notions are still pretty apparent in sour society. There are many more men than women in STEM education and careers, and I’m sure that the causes for this gender gap begins in childhood. It’s interesting to hear that we are one of the few countries where boys outperform females in math. The post states that “US boys do try harder because they think math will have a bigger impact on their lives”, so I wonder why girls in America tend to think that math will not play an important role in their lives. I’m guessing that a part of this is due to the fact that since there are so few women in fields of study related to mathematics, so many of them don’t think of it as something to pursue, creating a bit of a catch 22. But, we are seeing more and more women in areas like computer science, so this mathematics gap may change in the future.

  12. As a female civil engineering student in mostly male-dominated classrooms, not to mention, males who have grown up in families with engineers (many who went to the very same University), I relate a lot to this blog post.
    As a child I have felt, and continue to feel the effects of the comments presented on things said to girls. It is a mental and emotional game when you’re told “girls don’t often raise their hands because they lack confidence and fear judgment” or “girls mature faster than most boys”. There’s always truth to most of these comments but then again the differing effects it has on girls performances could really just be a matter of what they hold true. Not proving to be the true potential of the girl.

    When I was in middle school we had two forms of schooling; a national and an international program. I was part of the international program but before the school had this split, we were all together (local Ethiopians and diaspora/international students). When we were all together the common joke was that the more international kids didn’t take school seriously and couldn’t make the same marks as the national kids. Most of the national kids that I remember getting the best grades were the boys. I always think back to how I didn’t take on engineering initially because I only imagined engineers as these boys grown up; the national boys who always got the better grades and the obvious, were male. Then when we split the conversation was less on the divide of upbringing and I always went head to head with the smartest kid in math class. I loved the competition and felt more confident in my classes. I was a good student all threw out but it took taking the weight of stereotypes off my shoulders to realize this.

    Now, as a civil engineering student that comes from a home of politicians and businessmen/women I fall back to my discomfort more often than not. I realized early into my education that most of the men around me already had an idea of what we were learning because of their family experience and having joined clubs that helped them strengthen their skills. I didn’t and boy has that caused me some loss of confidence. But once I accepted this, I decided to find my own way to understanding through research and pushing for internships to get to a level where I know I can move forward in confidence. I am getting there and soon I won’t be as intimidated. Although understanding the competition around me became a strength, it isn’t always as such. Some girls/women give up because these realities consume them.

  13. I give all the credit to the female population when it comes to studying math. It has come to my understanding- from personal experience as well as spending time with a girlfriend of mine for almost three years- that women are much more resourceful than most men when it comes to seeking help and tutoring. Which leads me to saying that I respectfully disagree with the historical claim that: “American girls have had less confidence in their math skills than boys and have taken fewer math classes. But girls are also less likely to join the math, science or chess clubs, too.” I disagree with this excerpt from the post because there are plenty of women within my personal and family circle (including my girlfriend) who never focused their careers on stem majors, but when the time came to take GE credits for math and science; they weren’t always the strongest performers- but they were more driven in learning to be more resourceful with their thinking tools in finding the correct methods of studying and solutions to problems they could not understand at first. There may have been a greater influx of men who favored doing well in mathematics than women did back in the day, but women have also contributed to the many great advances in both math, science, etc. over the years. Whether there is a gender gap or not when it comes to doing well in school, I will agree with the notion that classroom results all depend on ones willingness to learn and openness of taking criticism- because sometimes I have learned that (as a man myself) I tend to be a little too stubborn or embarrassed in asking for help while women are at times the opposite. I wouldn’t say that is true for all men and women but it is something I have taken notice to between men and women during my years of both elementary and higher education.

    • Your girlfriend maybe more resourceful than you. And some women are better at math and more confident in it and some men. But on average women to have less confidence in math. We live in a culture that sees math as a male domain and people unconsciously internalize the idea.

      One of the best studies that uncovers the unconscious effects is one done with Asian women. Asians are stereotyped as good at math and girls in our society are stereotyped as not so good at it. When one group of Asian women was told they would be taking a math test to determine ethnic abilities of Asians compared with other groups their confidence rose and they did much better on the test than the women who were told they were studying gender differences.

  14. Personally I am a female and I suck at math. I have always been horrible in school but math is one of my worst subjects. I never really thought about it as to maybe its just all in my head? That maybe to have more of a positive outlook going into taking a test with positive mindset may possibly help my over all grade. I honestly never really compared how much smarter or less smart I was to a man until I met my recent boyfriend. I love him to death but sometimes i feel embarrassed to ask him anything school related not because i feel like he would judge me but because he just is smarter. And I can tell that it defiantly intimates me for whatever reason I could never understand why. Until reading this article actually made me put it together. Sadly I was thinking just because he is a male figure he knows more? Im not to sure if thats really what it is bit this article definitely relates to me.

    • One thing that is helpful about bringing unconscious ways of seeing to the surface is that it helps us to critique them and challenge them– Even in our own heads.

  15. Cecilia Rivera

    From my own experience, I have almost been conditioned to believe that my place was not in science and mathematics. As a kid, my parents always got me toys that were either baby dolls, doll houses, and an easy bake oven. All of them were the quintessential toys that almost trained and hinted at me to live my life domesticated. It was not until the third grade where my teacher encouraged us to join his after school science club. At that age, I thought it was a bit strange because the norm for us girls was to go play jump-rope or hopscotch (never have I thought these activities to be gendered). I am considerably lucky to have parents that let me stay after school and partake in the science club. We did all sorts of activities; experiments and math exercises. It was there that I began to adore science and mathematics. I know it may sound odd, but it was not until the third grade that I turned my focus to math and science activities. Instead of asking for dolls, I asked for Super Workbooks for math. Instead of ‘domesticated’ toys, I asked for a planetarium and crystal growing kits. I feel that if I was not encouraged or had the opportunity to be a part of the program that maybe I would have grown up believing that science/math isn’t for me. Now in college, I have gotten my A.S. in mathematics and currently working on a double B.S. in Geology and Sustainability Studies. What I have observed in my classes is that it is still very much male-dominated. But, I know that is changing when looking at student demographic statistics. I write this not attempting to show that I know about math and science, but more to show how I have personally been conditioned. A big part of this, in my opinion, is not instilling the thought that girls/boys are better at one thing and not the other.

  16. Sarah Leverton

    I found this post rather intriguing. When I was younger, I hated math, assuming at the time that I didn’t enjoy the subject. However, now that I am 31 and taking college classes I find that I enjoy the math classes more and I find myself wondering why that is. “Historically, American girls have had less confidence in their math skills than boys and have taken fewer math classes.” I can say without a doubt that I did not have much confidence in my math skills. As soon as I started struggling with a new type of problem, I would get upset and felt I wasn’t smart enough. Why would I think that? I believe that there are things in American society which are suggestive to girls in the way they should behave and what their interests should be. My toys growing up tended to be Barbie’s, baby dolls, a kitchen set, plastic heels, pretend makeup, etc. All things which hint at societies expectation of me to be a wife, a mother and pretty. I remember my brothers getting Legos, Kinect’s, mini rockets, even a microscope, things suggesting the importance of science, construction, and engineering. Now, my family always encouraged me to do well in all subjects, but it always felt as if the expectation of me was different than my brothers. I grew up with my grandparents in my elementary years and one dinner something was said which I will never forget. My Papa proclaimed to me in front of the whole family, “Sarah, you are going to grow up, graduate high school, get a college degree, get married and never work a day in your life.” I was only 9, and it completely deflated me. I remember thinking to myself, well if that is going to be my life why do I need to do well in school? I don’t think Papa had ill intentions in his comment, but it made me doubt the need to study hard for a while.

    • When I was first majoring in sociology I wasn’t aware of the realm of the social psychology, which looks at how Society gets into our heads. (Social psych from a psychological perspective looks more at how the presence of others affects our minds.) It was so fascinating that I made it my emphasis. It sure explains a lot!

  17. As an Indian femme person in the Computer Science field, I can definitely relate to feeling intimidated by the sheer amount of cisgender men in my math and science classes. Going to an all-girls high school actually allowed me to learn in a more focused environment, free from the stresses and distractions that come with having male classmates. I excelled in science and mathematics, and had the grades and the AP Scores to prove it.

    After coming to college, however, I noticed a large disparity in the amount of girls in my math and science classes as compared to boys – though this disparity was especially noticeable in the Math and Computer Science classes. After going to school with only girls for so long, the fact that I was one of maybe 4 or 5 girls in my 30-40-student math class really stuck out to me, and I began to feel very self conscious.

    Initially, I presumed that this feeling of discomfort was only because I was so used to only having female classmates. However, I slowly came to realize that the discomfort was also caused by a feeling of inherent inadequacy, and a subconscious assumption that the boys in my class were and would always be better or more competent mathematicians and/or programmers than me. Obviously, this is not true, as I have yet to flunk out of college and am doing fairly well.

    However, this article clearly points out how the stereotypes in our American society negatively impact females interested in math and science in comparison to countries around the globe. It is obvious that East Asian countries that have equal and high scores in math subjects from both males and females will obviously benefit from having those statistics, and that if we adjust our societal standards to promote women in mathematics as well, our technological advancements and society could benefit from it too!

  18. I am surprised this gap is not more widely known! I completely thought girls performed at par with boys in math given all the pro-young girls in STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) movements. Still have a ways to go clearly. The difference in performance based on country was a fascinating add, highlighting the effect culture has on girls’ mindsets about their abilities. I have taken a great deal of math classes myself and have always enjoyed the subject. That could be primarily at the encouragement of wonderful teachers and professors along the way – a critical component in helping girls think they can perform well in the sciences and combat the cultural limits. The college men and women experiment is very interesting. I am curious if they were told the gender difference favored men or just that a gender difference existed, and most of the women automatically assumed the difference meant men would do better instead of women doing better.

    • It’s good news that you weren’t aware of the MassCap. That means our country is changing and shutting the notion of math as a male domain. Which could help explain why girls are now taking math classes at about the same rate as men.

      That said, we haven’t overcome sexism. A new study found that at age 5 girls think that girls are smarter than boys. Yet by age 6 girls and boys are both more likely to think that boys are smarter, even though girls do better in class. (I was one of the girls who still thought girls were smarter at age 6.)

  19. RobertFoothill

    This article was very interesting to me, because it dive into a interesting topic that I just read about in the book Whistling Vivaldi. This book talks a lot about the issue of Identity contingency, which is exactly what is being demonstrated in this article. The example from Whistling Vivaldi was that a group of men were given a physical exam, and they were divided into two groups. In one group the black and white students performed exactly the same, but in the other group the men were told before the test that the test would measure natural athletic ability. Due to the stereotype that black men are more athletic than white men, the black students in this group performed better. I believe that this is exactly what is going on in the U.S. with regards to why men score higher than women in math. The stereotype of perceiving men as more mathematically gifted, has actually caused men to start scoring higher, and has discouraged women from pursuing high-level mathematics. In my mind the only way to counteract this effect, is to teach this social phenomenon, and that way we can show our men and women that it is simply a matter of confidence in oneself, and not some mental difference that makes men better at math.

  20. I always suspected that, of course;-)

  21. FHill_Spr'17JR

    From my experience I see that it is the teacher that has subconsciously left out the girls. In elementary school I remember my teacher would give the boys in the class extra packets of math problems to do. One time I asked this girl in my class for help and she said that she never got the packet. So there is those situations when the teacher will subconsciously treat someone in the class differently due to their gender. My engineering professor who is a female also had a similar experience. Her professor in graduate school was very surprised by her existence in the engineering classes. She would also be ignored when she raised her hand to answer a question a lot of times. So I think it is these small factors that add up to make the environment very uninviting. Also if you look at all the math formulas that have names after people, most of the formulas are named after men. This can be another factor that can make women feel excluded in these STEM classes.

  22. Brooke Hatfield

    In my psychology class we talked about the way girls are stereotyped to be more creative and only peak in fun and emotional critical thinking and not mathematical. Also teachers are more likely to encourage young boys to think big and not give as much analytical insight to young girls.

  23. I have a hunch one doesn’t have to tear down one thing to build up another. It is harder to simply build up, but I think it is a more solid foundation.

  24. I think often teachers share that belief as well. I excelled at math until an 8th grade teacher started favouring a male student who was my inferior. My math scores fell and I struggled to make up the difference without knowing what I was doing wrong. Eventually we sorted out that the (male) teacher was grading male students more leniently. I went back to the top of the class when the principal ordered tests to be scored by a third party – and I wasn’t the only girl whose grades were affected. But had we not discovered this, a bunch of us would have moved on to high school believing we weren’t as worthy just because of someone’s bias.

    • Yes, studies have shown that teachers also feel a bias toward believing boys are better at math in America. Parents too. And those attitudes affect children’s confidence in their abilities and their performance.

      Thank you for sharing your story on this. This was a more extreme example how it can happen. Oftentimes the message is communicated much more subtly. But still has a important effects.

  25. I attended high school at Mission San Jose High School in Fremont, CA. Living on the border of Silicon Valley, Fremont is a primarily Asian-American community, and my school was one of the best high schools in the area, causing it to gain a lot of interest from these wealthy, Asian-American households. MSJHS’s student demographic is 85% Asian, 10% white, and 5% every other race. My elementary school directly fed into my junior high (which is adjacent to it), and my junior high directly fed into my high school (which is back-to-back with my junior high), so I grew up with this demographic all my life. In my community, many of my peers’ parents were immigrants, and expressed the academic expectations that might be stereotypical to Asian countries. In Fremont, there’s an SAT Prep school on every corner, and the average SAT score for MSJHS is over 2000 (the national average is about 1400). A majority of my graduating class attended UC Berkeley directly from high school. Multiple students got into Ivy League schools, including our class president who is now attending Harvard. To these students, myself included, academic success is more than just a goal; it’s a necessity.

    My school had a strong focus on STEM classes. Our arts and athletic programs received hardly any money, but the STEM programs had enough money to buy smart boards, hundreds of textbooks on nearly twenty different subjects, and more than one class set of iPads. Because of this support, nearly all of my peers, many of them female, excelled in math.

    I would guess it’s the parents’ or the school’s fault that the average U.S. girl lacks confidence in math. At MSJHS, we grew up with the same mainstream media as the rest of America. Our only difference was that the expectations of Asian-American parents permeated our community, and greatly influenced our views on academia. Every girl is capable of succeeding in math; all she needs is the proper support from her community.

    • Yeah, that demographic probably makes a really big difference. In many Asian countries women and men perform equally well in math.

    • Nah, not so much expectations. Rather East Asians are the demographic with the highest IQ. You can’t fake your way to high SAT scores merely through harassing parents and peripheral helps. They’ll give a few percentage point boost at best.

      • There’s no evidence that East Asians have the highest IQ. They do tend to work harder than other ethnicities though. But that doesn’t seem to be due to biology. One theory is that rice, being such an important staple, was farmed by most families for millennia, and rice patties take a tremendous amount of work, creating a strong work ethic.

      • “There’s no evidence that East Asians have the highest IQ”

        No evidence other than…. every IQ study in the history of the universe, including SAT which is basically an IQ test. What kind of study would you accept on this?

        “One theory is that rice, being such an important staple”

        Hang on, one minute you’re saying nah, East Asians don’t have a higher IQ. The next minute you seem to be saying, “yeah ok, but it’s because they eat rice”.

        In any case, the observation about high IQ east asians only applies to Japanese, Chinese and Koreans. It doesn’t apply to south east asia. Yet they eat just as much rice if not more. So what happened? You can predict the level of economic development in any East Asian country by looking at their national IQ scores, yet they’re all eating rice. The one highly developed south east asian country is Singapore…. except that’s a south east asian country whose population is Chinese. Or take a country like the Philippines. Who dominates industry there? Chinese Filipinos. Why? Not because of colonialism, because the Philipines was a colony of white people, not Chinese. It’s because Chinese are smarter. I can tell you for sure though, nobody eats more rice than native Filipinos.

      • First, the theory isn’t that eating rice is what helps but that growing rice is what helps. And it’s not a theory that I necessarily think is right but it does make more sense than other theories. The idea is that rice patties take an incredible amount of time and effort with people working around the clock, and creates a huge work ethic. Hason Americans who immigrate to the United States do better than other ethnicities, including whites, partly because they work so hard. And you see the same work ethic in the schools and from pressure from parents. The more people are intellectually stimulated the higher their IQ goes.

        I don’t know whether growing rice is less intensive in Southeast Asia with the wet climate they have there . Or whether nutrition is lower in that area. Nutrition also affects IQ.

  26. All of our schools should be showing the movie Hidden Figures.

    • Yes! That film breaks down both gender and racial stereotypes.

      They should start showing it in elementary school when kids are first forming a sense of who they are.

  27. Boys are not better than girls at math for a given IQ. However the IQ distribution for boys and girls is a bit different. Many people in the high IQ ranges gravitate to the mathematical fields like engineering, computer science, physics etc, and its in the high IQ ranges where men outnumber and outperform women at increasing amounts the higher up the scale you go. So in school, it’s conceivable that girls and boys will get a similar score. That’s highly unlikely at university where the mathematical courses attract the higher IQ students. There are 10 males for each female at 3 standard deviations of intelligence (145).

    • Women performed better than men on the first IQ test that was ever administered.

      So researchers changed the test to favor men.

      Today, there’s just a 1% difference in IQ measurements between women and men, with men distributed at both the lower and higher ends.

      But as we have just seen, IQ tests do not perfectly measure our potential for smarts.

      In fact, before feminism girls performed better on IQs tests in elementary school than they did after leaving the elementary grades. But feminism changed that pattern.

      Stereotypes affect how people perform on tests. Black people who have to mark their race on standardized tests lose confidence and do worse. Two groups of Asian American women were given a math test. One group was told it was to measure gender differences, the other group was told it was to measure ethnic differences. Gender stereotypes say women do worst at math in America. But ethnic differences say that Asians do better on math. The women who were told the test measures ethnic differences performed better.

      Other differences in socialization also affect performance. Not only are boys top that map is a male domain, Helping them to do better on the math portion of an IQ test, but parents are more likely to play number games with their boys, and “Science club” and “Chess club” are generally thought of as things boys do. Their spatial skills can also be helped by the emphasis on sports and video games.

      These things are all beginning to change so we will see if IQ test performance changes overtime too.

      And if what you said were true you wouldn’t get the patterns you find from country to country.

      • I believe the bell curve works the other way that he didn’t mention. Men and women are pretty even with intelligence or IQ. Except when talking about the bell curve as in extremely intelligent or genius level intelligence there are more men. But also on the same spectrum or bell curve of low IQ, I believe I saw from a study there are more low intelligence men than women too. So it evens out. Sure there are more genius men or higher level genius, but men beat out women too on the stupid scale if we go the other direction too ha.

      • The low end seems to be explained by “fragile x.” The y doesn’t do much – pretty much just tells the male body how to form as a male since as embryos we all look female until the testosterone wash, which is triggered by the y.

        So women have a spare X if the other one doesn’t work right. But guys don’t have a spare.

        But even that gap at the high-end could be explained by something other than innate ability. Possibly continuing sexism in the exam. I said, the first IQ test that was created actually had women doing better — so the changed it right away. Exams aren’t perfect.

        Or something about the way boys and girls are socialized, Like boys having more experience with mathematical and spatial skills when they’re young because of the way their parents interact with them and the toys they are encouraged to play with. Plus the societal belief that men are better at math gives them confidence and confidence helps people to do better on exams.

  28. In my country, Spain, girls are in math and science generally better than boys.

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