Research Dismisses Stereotypes About Gender Gap in Math

math gender gapIt is generally believed that boys outperform girls in mathematical competitions. But a new study by researchers at Brigham Young University and the University of Miami has found that gender differences in the results of mathematical competitions evaporate after the first round of the competitions.

The research examined results by gender in a mathematics competition held between 24 elementary schools. In the first round of questioning boys did better than girls. Joe Price, a professor of economics at Brigham Young University, stated, “We don’t know if it’s boys getting excited and overperforming or if it’s girls being too uncomfortable with the situation.” But after the initial round, the study found that over the next four rounds of the competition, girls did just as well as boys. “What our results would hint,” says Professor Price, “is that if you convince girls to stick around and give it a shot, they will acclimate and do just fine.”

In another experiment, girls and boys were paired against each other in a five-minute quiz. Whoever got the most questions right won the competition. In the event of a tie, the person finishing first was declared the winner. Here the boys tended to do better than the girls. But when the speed component on the five-minute quiz was eliminated, and winners in the event of tie were not determined by who finished first, girls did just as well as boys.

The research, published in the Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, can be accessed here.

Filed Under: Gender GapResearch/Study


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