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Boys’ Math Skills = Girls’ Math Skills

Posted By __Dominique Sirgy__ On Oct 14, 2010 @ 3:05 pm In __Sci/Tech__ | __Comments Disabled__

A new study by a research team that includes UC Berkeley Graduate School of Education Professor Marcia Linn assesses whether or not there is a significant difference between male and female math ability ^{[1]}.

The first part of the study looked at math skills of about 1.3 million people while the second examined results of a few long-term studies. Both studies revealed that the difference between sexes was so close as to be meaningless.

Marcia Linn commented to the Graduate School of Education bulletin that the equality in math ability is widely accepted amongst education researches (well, duh, they’ve researched it) but still surprising to many teachers and parents. To be honest, it is probably still surprising to everyone who hasn’t researched it — or read this article.

So why does the gulf between math-y boys vs. math-y girls still seem so big? A huge factor is stereotypes. Stereotypes are bad people. Except the stereotype that says stereotypes are bad. We’re confused … As we were saying, apparently stereotypes can influence performance.

If girls are expected to do worse in math classes then, oftentimes, they will. This phenomena is called “stereotype threat,” and is worse than deriving the derivative of inverse trig functions. No clue what that means, but maybe it’s because I’m a girl. See how easy it is to stereotype?

The good news is women have made significant advances in technical fields: half of medical school students are women as well as 48 percent of undergraduate math majors. The number of women in physics and engineering is still lacking though.

So ladies, if you’ve lost hope in trying out any math-related majors due to stereotyping and social pressures, don’t give up! Scientific research has your back.

*Image Source: tkamenick ^{[2]} under Creative Commons*

Large study shows females the equal of males in math skills [UC Berkeley News

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[1] difference between male and female math ability: **http://gse.berkeley.edu/admin/publications/news/1010linn.html**

[2] tkamenick: **http://www.flickr.com/photos/[email protected]/3950391591/sizes/m/in/photostream/**

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