Georgianna Dolan-Reilly, LMSW

Georgianna Dolan-Reilly, LMSW

Social Justice Solutions | Staff Writer
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Girls Rock (At Science) but not in the USA or Western Europe

The Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development recently gave the same science test to 15-year-old students in 65 countries across the globe, finding that girls out scored boys in more countries, but unfortunately not in the United States or countries in Western Europe. Why, you might ask? The researchers gave several suggestions:

“What explains the gap? Andreas Schleicher, who oversees the tests for the O.E.C.D., says different countries offer different incentives for learning science and math. In the United States, he said, boys are more likely than girls to “see science as something that affects their life.” Then there is the “stereotype threat.”

“We see that very early in childhood — around age 4 — gender roles in occupations appear to be formed,” said Christianne Corbett, co-author of the 2010 report “Why So Few? Women in Science, Technology, Engineering and Math.” “Women are less likely to go into science careers, although they are clearly capable of succeeding.”

Researchers say these cultural forces are strong in the United States, Britain and Canada but far less pervasive in Russia, Asia and the Middle East, which have a much higher proportion of women in science and engineering. In Jordan, for example, girls score more than 8 percent better in science than boys do.”

While these might be relevant reasons behind the spread of the graph, the article could do with being longer and having more of an assessment of other factors between the scores of males and females. For one, scores within many countries don’t actually vary to what I would believe to be a significant amount between boys and girls.  In addition, there is a larger variation in the percentage difference between scores for the countries in which girls scored higher, and less variation in the percentage difference in countries where boys scored higher.

More details are available in the graphics on the article’s page for you to make your own assessment of this research, also check out the comments. Obviously there is more to these differences than first meets the eye, but at least research is heading in the right direction in assessing educational and career disparities between genders.

Written By Georgianna Reilly, LMSW
SJS Staff Writer

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