Grandma & Grandpa's Farm

Friday, July 25, 2008

Boys are from Earth, Girls are from Earth

Girls Can Do Math Just As Well As Boys

As a adult it always seemed strange to me when I heard that girls fell behind boys in school when it came to math and science. When I was in school I always thought of girls as the better students. I know there were always guys who did well, and when I was in Computer Club -- at a time before there were programming or computer courses in secondary schools -- there were only one or two girls in it for the dozen or so members we had. But the lab assistants seemed to be at least as many girls as boys and I recall perhaps more.

The girls always seemed the more studious and diligent with their schoolwork. Perhaps though I am remembering the earlier grades to grade 9? Perhaps at the time the girls tended to behave more politely and the teachers thought better of them as many of the boys were rough and tumble? I am not sure but I got that impression of girls being more scholastic than boys so it came as a surprise to me that they were falling behind in the maths and sciences -- especially calculus and physics -- in high school.

Now it seems that girls have caught up to boys in the standardized tests for Math*. They are discovering that there are fewer differences between how boy's brains and girl's brains are wired. The working theory has been that boys were expected to be going into occupations that would require the maths and physics and so took more of those courses so that when it came time for the standardized exams, they did better. The girls did not have the practise and so could not preform as well on those tests of academic ability.

There still are differences, but they are becoming smaller and smaller to the point of not being statistically relevant. More important though is the difference in performance between children in richer and poorer communities. Children in underprivileged settings are falling behind in their education.

I think that can be said regardless of race, creed, or background.

~ Darrell


* "Girls close math gap" Tom Spears -- Canwest News Sevice July 24, 2008, Ottawa Citizen.

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