Girls graduate high school with more math than boys, but still like it less. Why?

A new statistical brief  released this morning  by the National Center for Education Statistics at the Institute of Education Sciences, finds boys still like math and science more than girls — even at a time when higher percentages of female high school graduates took algebra II, precalculus, advanced biology, chemistry, and health science/technology courses.

mathI find it puzzling that girls take and complete more courses than boys, but like them less.

A new study offers one possible reason: Teachers assume boys are not only more interested in math, but are better at it and thus are more likely to encourage boys to pursue math.

Researchers followed students in Israel from sixth grade through high school and found teacher assumptions about boys and math influence grading.

 The New York Times reported on an interesting experiment within the study in which students took two exams, one graded by people who did not know their names or gender and another by teachers who did.

The Times said:  “In math, the girls outscored the boys in the exam graded anonymously, but the boys outscored the girls when graded by teachers who knew their names. The effect was not the same for tests on other subjects, like English and Hebrew. The researchers concluded that in math and science, the teachers overestimated the boys’ abilities and underestimated the girls’, and that this had long-term effects on students’ attitudes toward the subjects. For example, when the same students reached junior high and high school, the economists analyzed their performance on national exams. The boys who had been encouraged when they were younger performed significantly better.”

“Gender Differences in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) Interest, Credits Earned, and NAEP Performance in the 12th Grade,” describes high school graduates’ attitudes toward STEM courses (specifically, mathematics and science), credits earned in STEM fields, and performance on the National Assessment of Educational Progress mathematics and science assessments in 2009.

Key findings include:

  • In general, a higher percentage of male than female high school graduates expressed interest in mathematics, and the same was true for interest in science.
  • 50 percent of male high school graduates said that mathematics was one of their favorite subjects, compared to 43 percent of female high school graduates. Similarly, in 2009, higher percentages of males reported that they liked science or that science was a favorite subject.
    •Compared to males, higher percentages of female high school graduates took algebra II, precalculus, advanced biology, chemistry, and health science/technology courses. However, higher percentages of males earned credits in physics, engineering, engineering/ science technologies, and computer/ information science.
  • Compared to white female graduates, a higher percentage of white male graduates in 2009 reported that they liked mathematics or science by 4 and 10 percentage points, respectively, and a higher percentage of White males reported that mathematics or science was a favorite subject by 6 and 14 percentage points, respectively.
  • Higher percentages of black male graduates in 2009 reported that they liked mathematics or science (by 9 and 13 percentage points, respectively) and having mathematics or science as a favorite subject (by 11 and 12 percentage points, respectively) than their female counterparts.
  • Compared to female Asian American/Pacific Islander graduates in 2009, a higher percentage of male Asian American/Pacific Islander graduates reported that they liked mathematics (by 7 percentage points), that mathematics was a favorite subject (by 10 percentage points), and that science was as favorite subject (by 10 percentage points).
  • Among Hispanic graduates in 2009, the same pattern emerged: the percentages of male graduates who reported that they liked mathematics or science were higher than the corresponding percentages of female graduates by 8 and 16 percentage points, respectively, and the percentages of male graduates who reported that mathematics or science was a favorite subject were higher by 12 and 15 percentage points, respectively.
    • Generally, among high school graduates who had earned credits in specific mathematics and science courses, males had higher average NAEP mathematics and NAEP science scale scores than females.

Reader Comments 0

75 comments
Martha Barker
Martha Barker

Just read all this and to some extent I have a difference of opinion. But I liked the author's thought specially the first few lines of this write up.

www.researchpaperspot.com

OriginalProf
OriginalProf

@Assignment Help 

If so, you need to learn basic grammar: contraction form of verbs, capitalization, use of articles with nouns, end punctuation (periods).

User777
User777

I think the gap between boys and girls in STEM fields is closing as more girls see the career opportunities. There is a bias, though, that boys are good at math

SherryHuiner
SherryHuiner

@class80olddog (Is that your high school or college class?  It's my HS grad year.)

I keep trying to reply, but I can't get it to post.  In reply to your question, I don't see any way that the test results do confirm bias.

SherryHuiner
SherryHuiner

@class80olddog @SherryHuiner  You said, "But they make it sound like it is proving a bias."  Yes THEY do, but I can't see where they get that from.  That is part of the reason why I  researched--if you can call 5 minutes of googling and reading 'research'--for info on the original study.  I think the NYT just took what it thought was 'sexy' and left out anything that might contradict that, like, say, actual facts and stuff.

SherryHuiner
SherryHuiner

For an extremely wonkish explanation of the non-difference in the anonymous/named grading difference, this author is excellent:  https://mikesmathpage.wordpress.com/2015/02/10/looking-at-the-girls-do-better-when-their-math-exams-are-graded-anonymously-paper/


"So, indeed the girls performed worse than the boys in the “school” exam and better than the boys in the “national” exam. But, the difference is miniscule – both groups essentially performed identically in both exams....You wouldn’t expect a measure of any group to be EXACTLY the same on two different tests. What we saw here was that the difference was next to nothing. Also, the difference in performance between the “anonymous” grading and “non-anonymous” grading for both the boys and for the girls seems to be, well, practically 0."

SherryHuiner
SherryHuiner

@OldPhysicsTeacher @SherryHuiner  All I was trying to do was address earlier questions about the study's anonymous vs. named grading difference such as:


"lass80olddog 4 hours ago

How come when you ask the tough questions on this blog, all you hear is...a vast silence?  I asked how the graders could grade boys better in math when the answer was either right or wrong."


People were asking about that, but no one was answering, so I thought I would try.  I quoted two sources and offered a link.  I wasn't making an accusation or value judgment; I was just trying to help.

SherryHuiner
SherryHuiner

The following is a direct quote from the comments section of the NYTimes by Gordon Mohr San Francisco 4 days ago


"Unfortunately this write-up (NYT) misleads about what the Israel study found about grading.

It implies the exams were identical except for the graders. Rather, the exams were a year apart, 1st a standardized national test in 5th grade (graded by an agency), then "internal exams… in the middle of 6th grade" (graded by teachers). So: quite likely not the exact same test in content, format, or administration. (The paper doesn't further describe the tests.)

Girls in math were above average in 5th grade, but below in 6th. But that's not a claimed finding about math grading bias! In fact they report, p. 11: 'Math teachers' assessment in primary school… is on average gender neutral (0.01).'" 


edited for clarity by MSH
 

class80olddog
class80olddog

@SherryHuiner  Thanks for a clearer explanation, but how does two different grades on two different tests prove a bias in the grading toward boys.

bu2
bu2

@SherryHuiner 


And also, the study was in Tel Aviv.  Tel Aviv isn't like Jerusalem, but there are still a lot of Orthodox.  Its a different culture.

Don't Tread
Don't Tread

Here's my theory:  Girls like math less because there's no emotion involved.

Bernie31
Bernie31

@DontTread - Mommy is that the sound of a Dinosaur?  Yes My Dear, there are not too many around except for the old ones like this one. Pretty soon they will be all gone and we will NEVER hear from them again. Yayyyyyy!


Bernie31
Bernie31

@DontTread @Bernie31  - Thank-you for the kind words...too bad I cannot say the same about you or your crowd of mental misfits.


Starik
Starik

Has anybody seen "Life of Brian?"  Remember the argument within the People's Front of Judea (or is it the Judean People's Front?) over the right to have babies?

Bernie31
Bernie31

@Starik - There is a remote control for that? also see that little square above..its called a search engine...its not there for decoration. USE IT !  at yer own risk!

SherryHuiner
SherryHuiner

@Bernie31 @Starik  Which one (or are both) of you is being snarky? Starik,your comment made me laugh so loud that I scared the cat.

class80olddog
class80olddog

Hey, Dr. Monica Henson - you answer questions on here, perhaps YOU could explain why administrators schedule the EOCTs before the last week of the year?

DrMonicaHenson
DrMonicaHenson

@class80olddog  Hey there. That has always puzzled me, as well. The State grants a window of time during which the tests can be administered, so local districts have flexibility to set the testing weeks as they see fit. In my school's case, we set it as late as we possibly can in the year, but we run a 200-day calendar that extends into mid-June, so even though we test in May, it's still before our school is out for the year. The thing that gripes me, when I've worked in traditional districts, is the attitude that many teachers take that after the State tests are completed, school is essentially "over," and they show movies, schedule parties, etc., and pretty much waste the last month of school. This is by no means limited to Georgia. We encourage our students to complete as much of the course curriculum as they can before they take the State tests, then use the remaining school days as a mini-mester to get a jump on the next school year's coursework, and to complete all remaining non-EOCT coursework before the end of the year. 

OldPhysicsTeacher
OldPhysicsTeacher

@DrMonicaHenson @class80olddog  In other words, this year's school IS essentially over, because if it was "important," it would have been tested, and since your students KNOW THIS, the "busy" work YOU DO is wasted as the students are not idiots.  You're going to cover these topics next year anyway, because there are pacing charts that have all the information to be taught next year set out in stone.  You know this as does every teacher, but it appears you're one of "those" people who can't stand to not be working all the time (we *are* getting paid, you know).  Some of us march to a realistic drummer.  Some of us mindlessly follow *the rules.*  And it may be that in your school the only non-stressful teaching and LEARNING are only happening in the non-EOCT classes?


Sorry, I didn't meant to sound snotty.  My administrators know that all the science teachers say what they're thinking.  We're kind of hard to replace and our BS detectors are finely tuned.  class80olddog is right on target. 

bu2
bu2

@OldPhysicsTeacher @DrMonicaHenson @class80olddog 


I remember how nearly everyone (except me) goofed off the last 6 weeks of senior year as that didn't count in your class rank, including the people who had been working so hard to be valedictorian and salutatorian.   The teachers made it easier too.  It was pretty easy to get 100s and 99s.


The lesson is that people value what you measure.  That applies whether it is business or education and whether you are a high performer or low performer.

class80olddog
class80olddog

I would suggest that the Georgia State Legislature should make a law requiring that the EOCTs be given the last week of the year, but the educrats would just get around it somehow, just like they get around the law against social promotion now.

class80olddog
class80olddog

How come when you ask the tough questions on this blog, all you hear is...a vast silence?  I asked how the graders could grade boys better in math when the answer was either right or wrong.


A few blogs back, I asked why the EOCT was not scheduled for the last week of the semester.  Vast silence.


It seems like someone is saying to themselves "We can't defend this, so we had better just be quiet."


Now the question from the study I know was part of research done in Israel, but has NO ONE else ever questioned how the scores could change on a math test?

Bernie31
Bernie31

@class80olddog - how about lets stay with the subject matter at hand? do you mind? any opinion? comment? statement? more Lies? half truths?

Independent ED
Independent ED

@class80olddog Regarding testing in elementary schools, we give the tests in the middle of April with school not being out until the end of May.  This has been done, in part, so test scores will be graded and sent back to schools before the end of school in order to complete retests before school lets out.  My favorite part is we, the teachers, admin, etc. at the schools, must begin a mandated two weeks of remediation for students who fail the test.  The problem is, we don't find out until usually the last 10 days of school, if that.  So we've been forced to estimate who failed the test, offer them remediation in early May, and then find out if we guessed right when the scores come back.  And this remediation is supposed to be specifically targeted in the areas they need  according to the test...without test results.  All this mandated by our wonderful DOE.  We used to offer summer school where the students who failed portions of the test could receive two weeks of instruction (you know, since the previous 36 weeks before weren't enough) and then take the retest in June.  The money dried up for that shortly after NCLB and CRCT were implemented.  Now we play the guessing game so it can all be done before schools close in May.  All this in the hopes that a CRCT score of 798 can turn into an 800 so they can be seen as passing the test, as if there's any difference in a 798 and an 800.  I can tell you this, there is on paper, and for many, that's all that matters.  As for the new Milestones test, no one knows what will become of those because initial scores (no clue about how these will be scored, cut scores, etc.) won't be back until the fall, so essentially, back to your issue, we're giving an end of grade test with six weeks to go before the end of the year in order to expedite the return of scores that won't be returned until the next year.  SERENITY NOW!