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High School STEM Gap

stem students diverse

Silicon Valley’s high-tech upper echelon isn’t the only place with a gender gap. The latest update of the National Center for Education Statistics’ 2009 High School Transcript Study shows that while high school boys and girls earn math and science credits at similar rates, young men are far more likely to take engineering, technology, and computer science classes and to consider pursuing STEM majors in college.

The study, which looked at where 20,000 freshmen in 2009 ended up in 2013, also reveals major differences in who takes the most challenging math and science classes. Almost 45 percent of Asian students took calculus, for example, compared with 18 percent of white students, 10 percent of Hispanic students, and 6 percent of African American students. (The proportion of boys and girls who took calculus was roughly equal, at 15 percent.) Education Week’s Curriculum Matters blog post (July 7, 2015) breaks the report’s finding into several interesting infographics.

While students with higher grades and family incomes tended to express a stronger interest in STEM majors, the study revealed one intriguing departure from that trend: Parents’ education. Some 31.8 percent of ninth graders whose parents had less than a high school education were considering a STEM bachelor’s program – more than those whose parents received a high school diploma (27.4 percent), associate’s degree (29.6 percent), or bachelor’s degree (31.5 percent).


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