A new study suggests that lower girls’ math scores result from lower status in society more generally. The cross-cultural study reveals that:
Globally, boys tend to outperform girls in maths (on average girls score 10.5 points lower than boys) but in more “gender equal societies” such as Iceland, Sweden and Norway, girls scored as well as boys or better.
For example, the maths gender gap almost disappeared in Sweden, while in Turkey girls scored 23 points below boys in maths.
Average girls’ scores improved as equality improved and the number of girls reaching the highest levels of performance also increased, the researchers found.
Girls outperformed boys in reading everywhere, but even more so in places with greater gender equality:
On average, girls have reading scores that are 32.7 points higher than those of boys (6.6% higher than the mean average score for boys). In Turkey, this amounts to 25.1 points higher, and in Iceland, girls score 61.0 points higher.
Sapienza said: “Our research indicates that in more gender equal societies, girls will gain an absolute advantage relative to boys.”
I must say I’m just as sceptical about claims of girls’ innate superiority as I am regarding claims of their innate inferiority. And just as disturbed. Still, this is fascinating stuff, and clearly bears more investigation.
One thing I wonder about is how ‘gender equality’ of an overall society is measured, and the exact details of how it’s realised in different societies– as well as details of their educational systems. Sadly, I don’t have time to go read the article right now! So if you do, please tell us about it.