How Sweet it Is

A recent study of 7 million test scores (made possible by No Child Left Behind which can finally claim something good about itself) has shown that in grades 2 through 11 girls and boys score the same in math. In other words, boys are not inherently better at math, smarter than girls or more inclined toward dealing with numerically based concepts. It’s a myth.

How sweet it is. After years and years and years of assertion that not only is it unladylike for girls to be as smart as boys in math and science but they really aren’t anyhow, a little simple data crunching on a whole lot of data has shown that it just ain’t so. The cultural stuff is still there – girls are still teased for being smart but at least we now know that this is strictly a cultural phenomenon and not a genetic predisposition toward dumb.

Here is a really interesting article about the Top 5 Myths About Girls, Math and Science. Mostly what it says is that if you do things that encourage girls in math and science the boys find the messages encouraging, too. It also says that a boy will take a “C” in a math or science course and just keep moving forward if he likes the subject whereas a girl with a “B” will think she’s no good and stop. Interesting.

The flip side of all this that boys are failing in record numbers. Some would have you believe it is because our education system is more geared for girls who are more willing to sit quietly and do as they are told than for rambunctious boys. They want you to believe that it is the “feminization” of the classroom that is responsible for this phenomenon but as I scan several articles on this topic I cringe at the absurdity of them and turn tail from the argument like a dog who’s just been sprayed by a skunk. Since boys have always been more rambunctious than girls I suspect classroom management trends and free choice are more responsible for this phenomenon than anything but who knows?

What I do know is that we finally have some solid evidence that intelligence is not gender based and that girls are as smart as boys and I like that. I like it a lot.

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13 Responses to How Sweet it Is

  1. Kristina says:

    Thanks for this post. You might check out anything written by Michael Kimmel, whose main argument is that there are always more differences within the genders than between them. Averages are just that–and they detract from the wide range of variation among boys and among girls, whether you’re talking about performance or aptitude.

  2. Kristina says:

    Thanks for this post. You might check out anything written by Michael Kimmel, whose main argument is that there are always more differences within the genders than between them. Averages are just that–and they detract from the wide range of variation among boys and among girls, whether you’re talking about performance or aptitude.

  3. comm's says:

    Wow, you and I are polar opposites on the political spectrum but I am in perfect agreement with you on the women being just as smart a capable as men in math and science. Well…in a lot of areas too, but you hit on that specifically.

    I have also seen/heard figures showing that there is a higher percentage of females attending and graduating from university than males. Extrapolate that as you will.

    I do think there is what I call the “Oprah-ization’ of society which manifests itself in limiting competition amongst boys which can allude to what you call “feminization’.

  4. comm's says:

    Wow, you and I are polar opposites on the political spectrum but I am in perfect agreement with you on the women being just as smart a capable as men in math and science. Well…in a lot of areas too, but you hit on that specifically.

    I have also seen/heard figures showing that there is a higher percentage of females attending and graduating from university than males. Extrapolate that as you will.

    I do think there is what I call the “Oprah-ization’ of society which manifests itself in limiting competition amongst boys which can allude to what you call “feminization’.

  5. Misty says:

    Actually, they’ve known for quite a while that girls and boys do equally well in math. The problem is that few girls choose to go into higher math. There’s a disproportionate number of girls in higher math and physics. It’s a real shame.

  6. LBTEPA says:

    This is a great study, and so encouraging! *raspberry* to the gender-based ability theorists!
    But you seem to be equating ‘not good at maths and science’ with ‘dumb’? I don’t agree with that

  7. Pharmie says:

    Coming from a math and science background, I say Boo-Yah! BTW, a very belated congrats on your first half. Way to seriously rock the course!

  8. Pharmie says:

    Coming from a math and science background, I say Boo-Yah! BTW, a very belated congrats on your first half. Way to seriously rock the course!

  9. ihatetoast says:

    i think we accept Cs in boys. girls (most kids) react according to what is expected of them. could a woman as dumb as the prez be elected? no. a dumb man is just … aw, he’s just a good guy. a woman that dumb? probably labeled a bimbo. she’s not only dumb, but sexually promiscuous.

    do you ever wonder (this is a flipside thing) about the damage that all the “boys suck” type t-shirts being worn do? i taught boys and girls. loved them both. they’re different. never felt the need to compare them. i did feel bad for the boys when girls wore “boys are stupid” shirts. i don’t think equality means equal meanness.

    i am guilty of that, though. i can do the “men…”-thing even if i don’t mean it. probably because “humans suck” is even more depressing.

  10. fe-lady says:

    If the guys are failing currently, it’s not because of lax attitudes in the classroom. It’s because of lax parenting that bleeds over into bad behavior in the classroom. Teachers are still teaching well. I blame media too because everything has to come with bells and whistles in order for it to “stick” any more.

    It’s so easy to blame public schools for everything.
    It’s harder to call it a wide-spread social problem, because then we can’t finger point.

    If you have never spent a whole WEEK (much less a whole year) in a classroom full of eighth graders, then your opinion about “what is happening in the classroom” is moot.

    “You”, not meaning YOU, 21st…I mean readers!

  11. Anonymous says:

    Hi there! I met you at the start of CDA. Great job on your race. It sounds like you guys had fun too!! My goal in 2005 was sub-7 also and I finished in 7:06 so I still need to go back someday and redeem myself. 🙂 This year we just had fun spectating.

  12. Brenda says:

    Oops – I forgot my name in my comment above.

  13. Laura says:

    A-W-E-S-O-M-E!!!!! Thanks so much for sharing! Now if we could only get the profs in higher education to realize this and make the opportunities in academia more friendly for both genders we’d really be getting somewhere!

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