Friday, December 26, 2008

The Math Gender Gap is real

Here is a well researched article that states the there is a Gender Gap in school mathematics that favors males after puberty when the problems are less than trivial.
Prior to puberty no math gender gap.
This Gap shows up in High School and College.

As an aside there apparently is a Chess gender gap among the best chess players in the world.


Anonymous said...

The drop out rate for boys is greater than for girls. Gender studies don't look at the total population.

Anonymous said...

So how does high school math curriculum prepare students for either work or college?

Sudhakar said...

The statement Dan made about top players in chess is true. In the October list of top 100 players in the world, published by the International Chess Federation (FIDE'), Judit Polgar stands as the lone woman player with a ranking of 27, and an international chess rating of 2711. Here is the link:

Interestingly, Laszlo Polgar, a man who will probably put many feminists to shame with his unique accomplishment: by training every one of his three daughters to be chess masters. He even wrote a book which roughly translates to "Bringing Up Genius", to document his methods.

Closer to home, both the Washington High School Chess Federation and the Oregon Scholastic Chess Federation publish separate lists for their top scholastic players by grade level. They do not break out statistics by gender, but one can glean by reading the names that roughly 10 - 20% of the top scholastic players are girls. Oregon publishes an interesting list called Lifetime Achievement list, which is about 30% girls. It goes solely by the number of tournament games played in one's lifetime. One interpretation is that the girls are having to try a lot harder to get to the top spots.

Here is the link to the Oregon list:

Here is the link to the Washington list:


Anonymous said...

I've started chess clubs at each of the schools I've been at - usually the trouble is getting girls too start playing. But once they get it, I don't have trouble keeping them interested. I tell them to bring a friend and also we play bughouse, so that makes the game more interesting. They're a bit more circumspect (I'm not generalizing all girls, but girls learning to play chess) than boys when they do lose so some of my best players have been girls. And they tend to get some celebrity status too - the Polgars were a welcome sight anywhere.

Sudhakar said...

Here is some interesting data from another culture - India. In the state of Karnataka, where Bangalore, the high tech capital of India, is located, all 10th graders take a mandatory exit exam. Passing in every subject is required. Everyone takes at least six exams (three langauages, including English, Math, Science and Social Studies) lasting about 3 hours each. In the year 2007, the last year for which data is available to the public, about 700,000 students in the state took the 10th grade exit exam. The male to female ratio is roughly 51% to 49%.

Subject Pass rate Boys Pass rate Girls

First Language 88.2% 93.69%
Second Language 88.96% 98.78%
Third Language 93.09% 95.17%
Math 82.03% 83.93%
Science 84.66% 87.72%
Social Studies 93.4% 94.36%

More girls, as a percentage, passed in each of the subjects compared to boys. This has been fairly consistent in the state. One interesting cultural note is that many communities, especially on the coast, practice matriarchy, where the woman is considered the head of the household. These communities also have a higher female birthrate compared to the rest of the country. More data can be found here:

On another note, Bob Compton, the fellow who produced the video "2 Million Minutes", has produced two more DVDs, each focusing on China and India respectively. I got mine recently and watched them. Definitely a must watch for anyone who wants to find out how the future competition educates their youth. Here is the link:

dan dempsey said...


Thanks for the link to the new Two Million Minutes videos.


Anonymous said...

From a classroom pov, matriarchal or matrifocal, it doesn't really seem to have a place when you are speaking about gender differences which are hormonal, so very little to do with intelligence. The gender achievement gap is a product created by our culture of failures. The nature of US reform is prescriptive and parallels the Puritans who burned their heretics to prove their point - Power is truth.

Anonymous said...

Have a look at an alternative school in a community with a large percentage of minorities in Washington, there you will see grades 10-11 Hispanic females and grade 9 caucasian males, many with untreated learning disabilities.

The classroom conditions and graduation rates are deplorable. This is the selective power of our education system. Consequently, Washington has very few minorities graduating with a high school diploma. The turnover rates and transfers to other schools adds to the chaos. OSPI should have started tracking students years ago and not wait for a fantasy like NCLB.