Reading, Writing, AND Arithmetic

July 29, 2008

Well, look at that. New research shows that girls can do math just as well as boys can. In the past there has been some discussion about women’s aptitude for math, so this is great news.

The study, conducted by UC Berkeley and University of Wisconsin researchers, analyzed math test scores from ten states and found not only that girls are performing as well as boys on standardized test but also that they are taking the same types of math courses in elementary and high school.

While Barbie once famously complained about math being hard, turns out that girls are just as savvy as boys when it comes to fiddling around with numbers. But stereotypes still persist about girls’ ability to do math and may be a main reason women remain underrepresented in math and science fields. Through our Community Action Grants program, AAUW supports mission-focused projects, many of which are specifically targeted to increasing interest in math and science among girls.

One outstanding example of the kind of work being done by our own member branches is the Tech Trek Science Camp, which provides 7th grade girls from all backgrounds the opportunity to attend a weeklong program at Stanford University focused on building excitement about math and science careers. Founded in 1998 and supported by a Community Action Grant, the program continues to grow.

Here is a snapshot of what the 2008 camp offered girls:


Now that looks like fun to me. And I think even Barbie would agree.

By:   |   July 29, 2008


  1. Sue says:

    I wanted to add something else from the study that I found really interesting: “Among students with the highest test scores, the team did find that white boys outnumbered white girls by about two to one. Among Asians, however, that result was nearly reversed. Hyde says that suggests that cultural and social factors, not gender alone, influence how well students perform on tests.”

    I was glad to read that excerpt because I think so many qualities that are assumed to be dominant in either girls or boys because of biology are dominant because of socialization & culture and this helps show that is true for math. And I was sad to read the excerpt because it demonstrates there is still socialization occurring that is keeping white girls from taking math (and apparently keeping asian boys from taking math…).

    I also wonder what the gender break down is for other races and ethnicities.

  2. steffan says:

    This is a good example of why there is a “boy crisis” in America. With all the effort put into creating positive things for girls we see what can be achieved. If programs are created (as mentioned above) that empower girls, if special scholarships and awards and fellowships are created for girls and if better mentoring and role models exist a lot can be accomplished. The benefit the girls have been given is also that we have changed the way we teach and test. On the other hand boys are treated as if they are deficient in reading and sent to special ed — a program that no doubt has great stigma associated with. Also, with the increasing number of single parent families and the decreasing number of male teachers, the number of positive role models for young boys is at an all time low. I remember in the past (and to a lesser extent now) how many feminists push for more role models for women. Is there any wonder the reading gap continues to wider and the percentage of males attending colleges is decreasing. We now need to do the same for boys that we have done for girls. The AAUW could actually increase their prestige by supporting such things for boys. I assume that at least a few of you have husbands, sons and brothers that you care about and would like to see them have a positive future as well.

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