Study Finds That the Math Gender Gap in Ninth Grade Is Large But It Expands Further As Girls Get Older

A new study published by the National Bureau of Economic Research finds a significant gender gap in mathematics by the time students reach the ninth grade. The study by researchers at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and the University of Pennsylvania, found that of the top 5,000 ninth graders in the American Mathematics Competitions, only 30 percent were female. In the top 500, 18 percent were female and in the top 50, 8 percent were female.

The disparity grows as the students get older. The research shows that after ninth grade girls are more likely to drop out of participating in the American Mathematics Competitions. The girls who remain in the competition are even more outpaced by males. Out of the top 5,000 competitors who were high school seniors, only 22 percent were female. Of the top 500, just 12 percent were young women.

The researchers speculate that math teachers have lower expectations for girls and may not pay as much attention to them in class. A 2012 study from the University of Texas at Austin discovered that teachers who believed males were naturally better at math had regular bias against females and tended to give males higher grades. Or girls may be aware of the stereotype that they are not as capable in math as boys and choose on their own to follow an academic path that they perceive will be more successful.


Filed Under: Gender GapResearch/Study


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