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.