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New Study Changes Equation for Girls Who Want Careers in Math

July 25, 2008 03:57 PM
by Rachel Balik
New research results indicate that girls perform as well as boys on elementary and high school math tests, equipping them for careers in science and technology.

30-Second Summary

After closely examining statistics from federally required standardized tests, researcher Janet Hyde was able to declare, “Girls have now achieved gender parity in performance on standardized math tests.” The results included tests from both elementary school and high school. Hyde says her finding should encourage more girls to pursue careers in math and science. Girls are taught to believe they will not hold up in upper level math classes, and because of that, they avoid “lucrative careers in science and technology,” Hyde says.

Previously, experts have debated whether women simply are not cut out for science careers. Lawrence Summers, President of Harvard University, caused an uproar in 2005 when he suggested that success in science careers was determined by “innate ability.” Studies conducted in response to Summers’ remarks indicated that girls shied away from math and science due to social and environmental factors.

A 2007 study by the National Science Foundation found that teachers still favor boys in math and science classrooms and that parents hesitate to encourage their daughters to pursue math and science. Findings like Hyde’s suggest that girls are equally capable as boys in these areas, and will continue to excel with improved social and environmental resources.

Headline Link: Girls equal boys in math

Background: The differences between boys and girls in math and science

Related Topics: Women in the sciences, gender learning gap

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Reference: Math resources


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