Large, representative studies of US students show that no sex differences in mathematics performance exist before secondary school. During and after secondary school, historic sex differences in mathematics enrollment account for nearly all of the sex differences in mathematics performance. However, a performance difference in mathematics on the SAT exists favoring males, though differences in mathematics course performance measures favor females. In 1983, Benbow concluded that the study showed a large sex difference by age 13 and that it was especially pronounced at the high end of the distribution. However, Gallagher and Kaufman criticized Benbow's and other reports finding males overrepresented in the highest percentages as not ensuring representative sampling.
In a 2008 study paid for by the National Science Foundation in the United States, researchers found that "girls perform as well as boys on standardized math tests. Although 20 years ago, high school boys performed better than girls in math, the researchers found that is no longer the case. The reason, they said, is simple: Girls used to take fewer advanced math courses than boys, but now they are taking just as many." However, the study indicated that, while on average boys and girls performed similarly, boys were overrepresented among the very best performers as well as among the very worst.
Kiefer and Sekaquaptewa proposed that a source of some women's underperformance and lowered perseverance in mathematical fields is these women's underlying "implicit" sex-based stereotypes regarding mathematical ability and association, as well as their identification with their gender. Some psychologists believe that many historical and current sex differences in mathematics performance may be related to boy's higher likelihood of receiving math encouragement than girls. Parents were, and sometimes still are, more likely to consider a son's mathematical achievement as being a natural skill while a daughter's mathematical achievement is more likely to be seen as something she studied hard for. This difference in attitude may contribute to girls and women being discouraged from further involvement in mathematics-related subjects and careers. Stereotype threat has been shown to affect performance and confidence in mathematics of both males and females. However, a review of stereotype threat literature found most studies couldn't be replicated or suffered methodological problems and concluded "that although stereotype threat may affect some women, the existing state of knowledge does not support the current level of enthusiasm for this as a mechanism underlying the gender gap in mathematics."
Two cross-country comparisons have found great variation in the gender differences regarding the degree of variance in mathematical ability. In most nations males have greater variance. In a few females have greater variance. Hyde and Mertz argue that boys and girls differ in the variance of their ability due to sociocultural factors.
Read more about this topic: Sex And Psychology
Other articles related to "mathematics":
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Famous quotes containing the word mathematics:
“... though mathematics may teach a man how to build a bridge, it is what the Scotch Universities call the humanities, that teach him to be civil and sweet-tempered.”
—Amelia E. Barr (18311919)
“It is a monstrous thing to force a child to learn Latin or Greek or mathematics on the ground that they are an indispensable gymnastic for the mental powers. It would be monstrous even if it were true.”
—George Bernard Shaw (18561950)