Study Finds Longer Tests Can Eliminate the Gender Scoring Gap in STEM

Women tend to perform better than men on verbal or reading tests, while men tend to outperform women on tests where mathematics is involved. These results may push women away from pursuing degree programs in STEM disciplines. Some academics have speculated that women do not score as well as men on mathematics tests because they do not perform as well under pressure.

A new study by two scholars at European universities shows how academics can level the playing field when it comes to testing in STEM fields. The researchers examined data from the Program for International Student Assessment in 2006, 2009, 2012, and 2015 in 74 countries throughout the world. Another data set included statistics on the gender scoring gap on more than 400 mathematics tests.

The researchers found that the longer the test, the lower the gender gap. The authors report that “for more than 20 percent of the countries where male students had an initial advantage in math and science, this gap was completely offset or even reversed after two hours of test-taking.”

The author conclude that “promoting gender equality in STEM course enrollment and career choice is on the policy agenda of many governments worldwide. Gender-balanced test scores might help to achieve this objective. It has been found, for example, that arbitrary changes in early test scores that are unrelated to a student’s ability in the evaluated domain can affect future enrollment decisions. With this in mind, our findings point to test length as a tool for reducing the gender gaps in test scores.”

The full study, “Females Show More Sustained Performance During Test-Taking Than Males,” was published in the journal Nature Communications. It can be accessed here.

Filed Under: Research/StudySTEM Fields

RSSComments (0)

Leave a Reply