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Math Gender Gap Disappears in U.S.


American girls have closed the mathematics gender gap. That’s the finding of a new study by the Center on Education Policy, which has been tracking gender differences among U.S. students in math and reading since 2002. While girls have traditionally trailed boys when it comes to math skills, particularly at the elementary school level, the study finds that boys and girls are now roughly equally proficient at math at all three levels: elementary, middle school and high school, according to the Associated Press. However, it found that in reading, not only does the gender gap persist, but it’s deepening — but here, girls have the edge. Girls outperform boys in reading in all 50 states, the AP reports. In some states, the girls’ lead was a huge 10 percentage points. The latest study was based on 2008 test results, and it ranks students into three achievement tiers: basic, proficient and advanced. While, overall, boys and girls were equally capable at math, there were slightly more boys than girls in the advanced tier at the 4th grade level in most states, the AP says.

So, if girls are as competent as boys at math — and science, too, other studies show — how come males still dominate America’s STEM workforce? Why So Few? A new study from the American Association of University Women (AAUW), asks that very question, according to the Washington Post. The AAUW report pored over dozen of studies on the subject, the Post says, and concluded it mostly comes down to stereotypes. The tired, old perception that boys are better at math and science than girls begins to infect the self confidence of girls in middle school, and those self doubts increase as they continue their education.

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