Are Boys Better Than Girls at Math? by Meenu Johnkutty
In order to explain the gender gap in some STEM fields, professor of economics and finance at the University of Michigan, Mark. J. Perry used gaps found between the scores achieved by boys and girls on the SAT math section to support his claim that boys are better than math than girls. Perry found that boys, on average, scored 40 points higher than girls on the 2015 SAT math section Perry then went on to say that these scores may suggest that “closing the STEM gender degree and job gaps may be a futile attempt in socially engineering an unnatural and unachievable outcome.”
But, are SAT test results an accurate representation of intelligence and success in STEM fields? There is a lot of speculation being thrown around in Mr. Perry’s studies. In fact, time and time again, scientists have disproved the “boys are better than girls at math” theory. According to a study conducted by Stanford University, researchers suggested that “gender differences in competitive attitudes may cause mathematics test scores to give a biased representation of the underlying gender differences in math skills.” Mr. Perry’s study is the case in point as he exaggerates the bias that men are better than math than women, instead of pinpointing other external factors that contribute to differences in test scores, like varied responses to pressure and competition and other social and cultural factors.
According to data released by the College Board, on average, high school girls get better grades than boys and are more likely to graduate in the top 10% of their high school class. Which is a better indicator of success in any future career? Grades that have been earned over a time period of four long years or a three-hour test taken on a Saturday morning? A Google search can quickly reveal that high school GPA is a better indicator of college success than the SAT or ACT, and the number of test-optional colleges that acknowledge this fact is on the rise.
Closing the gender gap in STEM is a challenge that can be duly accomplished. By viewing both girls and boys as intellectual equals early on, stereotypes which portray one gender as superior to the other will not faze our future engineers and computer scientists. Caution must be taken when reading anything on the Internet; case in point to Mr. Perry’s attempt to tell me that women becoming engineers and computer scientists is an “unnatural and unachievable outcome.”
SAT Scores by Gender
Why the STEM Gender gap is so Overblown
Gender Gap in Math Test Scores