Study suggests girls' advantage in reading explains gender gap in math fields

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A pair of researchers, one with the Paris School of Economics, the other with CNRS, UMR8545, Paris-Jourdan Sciences-Economiques, has found a possible reason for the gender gap in math fields—girls have an advantage in reading. In their paper published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, Thomas Breda and Clotilde Napp describe their study of test score data from thousands of students across the globe and what they found.

In the U.S.. there is a drive to reduce the gender gap in STEM fields of study—there are many more men than women in science, technology, engineering and professions. And part of that effort is dedicated to better understanding why the gap exists. Prior research has suggested that play a strong role, such as a perception of such work as non-feminine—including the views of women who may want to go into such a field, others in the field, and society at large. In this new effort, the researchers suggest that there may also be another reason—girls are better with reading and communication skills.

The study involved analyzing data from the Program of International Student Assessment (PISA), which is a series of tests given to students around the globe every three years. In their study, the researchers focused exclusively on students who were 15 years old—they suggest this age is when young people begin making serious plans for their future. In addition to testing students, the assessments also included questions about professional intentions. Prior research has shown that the fields that students report on the assessments tend to match up very closely with actual career choices.

The researchers report that the data showed that those students who listed math as a career field were more likely to be male. Also, male students scored slightly higher than female students in math, but not by a statistically significant amount. The researchers noted that there were no signs in test scores that could explain the that would occur later on—or the gap in students listing math as a preferred field of study. But the researchers did note that on average, girls excel at reading compared to math, while the opposite is true for boys. They suggest this indicates that female students tend to lean toward reading and communications skills over math because they are better at it.


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The key to fixing the gender gap in math and science: Boost women's confidence

More information: Thomas Breda et al. Girls' comparative advantage in reading can largely explain the gender gap in math-related fields, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (2019). DOI: 10.1073/pnas.1905779116

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Jul 17, 2019
What if the reason there is less females in STEM fields is simply because they find these fields less appealing? I'm in a STEM field because I grew up as a nerd. I've always built computers, played video games and went to arcades as a kid. Your hobbies absolutely influence your career path. I'd advise caution with the "drive to reduce the gender gap in STEM fields of studies" as it ignores the fact that maybe STEM careers simply don't interest all demographics. I've seen many succeed in the tech industry, but I've also see many leave because sitting in a dark office all day while writing code isn't for everybody.

Jul 17, 2019
A really stretched hypothesis. Like saying you're going to be weaker in basketball if you play baseball. I don't buy it.

Jul 17, 2019
Somehow this
"... male students scored slightly higher than female students in math, but not by a statistically significant amount"
and that
"But the researchers did note that on average, girls excel at reading compared to math, while the opposite is true for boys"

cant be both significant in statistics, is it?

Jul 17, 2019
Why can't the liberals just accept that males and females are just different from each other? I am not saying that one is inferior to the other just different. They are fine with gays projecting female stereotypes but cannot deal with the preferences of heterosexuals.

Jul 17, 2019
1st of all, it's obvious guys just read less because most of us have hobby's unlike girls which I often hear complain they have nothing to do, so they just read or something. 2nd, girls' puberty starts earlier! Their brains are further developed at age 15, of course there's gonna be a gap!

Jul 17, 2019
I suspect the methodology in this paper.

Math is just a language for numbers. It's more rational than any other human language. Math doesn't care how you feel and can't even state it. That's for natural languages to express. It's based on obvious stuff like, if I have two oranges and I give my brother one and he eats it, how many oranges do I have left? This is an obvious fact in the material world.

That said, how you feel is also concrete; but math can never address it. The societal bias enters when young women decide math is invalid because they can't express their feelings with it. And they've been taught that expressing their feelings is the most important thing.

I probably read five thousand books when I was a child and teenager, and it never held me back from math. I'm calling bullshit.


Jul 17, 2019
Males like to build and fix stuff more than females. Thus math and the sciences are more interesting to them. Does this apply to every man and woman, of course not. I really do not see anyone worrying about the fact that there are more female nurses and primary school teachers than males.

Jul 17, 2019
Apropos of nothing much at all, but; boys are far more likely to suffer autistic spectrum disorders. Asperger's, autism, etc. Many of those people are very proficient at maths. From memory, Newton was suspected of having Asperger's. In retrospect, of course. Based on descriptions of his behaviour and demeanour. Possibly Dirac, but I maybe recalling incorrectly there. So, is there a part of the brain that is associated with both mathematical ability and ASDs? And why is is not affected in women so much? Just musing.

Jul 17, 2019
Girls should avoid those tough subjects, since thinking gives you wrinkles. /sarc

Jul 17, 2019
If the y chromosome really matters, the study should focus on transgender people and women with xxy chromosomes.. Additionally, if they want to consider hormones, compare female athletes to non athletes. For men, guys with high estrogen or very low testosterone compared to avg.

Also, compare avg biological women to tomboys who are also avg biologically.

Would be able to shut up most people if they covered those bases.

Jul 17, 2019
It looks like the assertion about girls "choosing" not to pursue STEM isn't in the study, it's speculation by this website. Just more of the same trite, poorly reasoned crap from the status quo crowd. This comment thread is clear evidence that we need more diversity in STEM.

Jul 17, 2019
Girls should avoid those tough subjects, since thinking gives you wrinkles. /sarc


LOL Even more so when they go to the beach too often and think that a tan is more glamorous.
Most often, the girls are only copying their mother, especially if she is a stay-at-home Mum who is fond of baking and cooking. I've been told that being a full-time Mum is hard work and requires almost 24 hour dedication. I am not at all surprised, since homemaking is the one primary duty of women, especially those who are mothers.
The rare occasion of a girl going into the STEM subjects/fields is due to her falling in love with and having a passion for science, and not because she is expected to or required to do so as boys are.
There was once a boy who grew up to become a carpenter and also a rabbi. His Mum stayed at home and took care of her husband and family and their home. They were the epitome of a good family, but other such families are also as good.

Jul 17, 2019
If the y chromosome really matters, the study should focus on transgender people and women with xxy chromosomes.. Additionally, if they want to consider hormones, compare female athletes to non athletes. For men, guys with high estrogen or very low testosterone compared to avg.

Also, compare avg biological women to tomboys who are also avg biologically.

Would be able to shut up most people if they covered those bases.
says Darth Ender

There are only 2 genders, male with a penis and testes; and female with a vagina, uterus and ovaries plus mammary glands to produce milk for their newborns. Any other additions to these are contrived and unnatural. It is known that hormones and sex hormones can be manipulated, whether by science, or by other conditions - even through incest, alcohol and drug use, and diet.
There are many other reasons why human children are converted into something which they were not originally intended to be, such as a Mum or Dad who preferred a son, eg

Jul 17, 2019
@Giovanuclear, but why are boys more interested in STEM hobbies?

@Bart_A, it's more like saying: if you have average basketball skill, but you have superior baseball skill, you will probably pick a career in baseball.

@chrisoutwright, I believe it can. Example: girls reading: 100, girls math:49, boys math: 51, boys reading: 2. This is just an example.

@MR166, nobody disputes males/females are different, obviously. But why are they different? You're argument is like saying "Why can't people just accept that people who are immune to AIDS and those that aren't are just different from each other?" We research so we can learn.
Also, everyone "can deal" perfectly well with the preferences of heterosexuals.

@YD van Damme __, your argument is anecdotal.

@MR166 again, but why do males like to build and fix stuff more than females?
Also, I think you are confusing the concept of "worrying about" something with the concept of researching it.

Jul 17, 2019
@Surveillance_Egg_Unit, are you saying that intersex people are "contrived"?

Jul 17, 2019
-contd-
There are families in which the boys are preferred, where the female child tries to emulate her brothers, because emotionally, she is attempting to win the love of her parents and access their attention. She may turn to athletics, become a tomboy, and even become a lesbian just to please her parents. In such a dysfunctional family situation, the girl suffers mentally and emotionally due to her parents' own emotional dysfunction.

And psychologists are now writing papers saying that this and all other abnormal mental and emotional conditions are perfectly normal and should not be regarded as abnormal and/or strange. These mental conditions are now considered to be a part of the DIVERSITY of society.

Jul 17, 2019
Nobody becomes a lesbian to please their parents

Jul 17, 2019
@Surveillance_Egg_Unit, are you saying that intersex people are "contrived"?
says cowlinator

What exactly is an "intersex"? I have heard of, and even spoken to, a person who had been born with both a vagina and uterus, as well as a functioning penis. This person had no idea what gender he or she was, and stayed pretty much in the 'shadows' so as not to be discovered. Nature sometimes plays tricks, of that we can be certain.

But when did you start hearing the term "intersex"?

Jul 17, 2019
Everyone acknowledges that being a tomboy, having green eyes, or liking butter pecan ice-cream is "abnormal" (a.k.a. ordinary, average, mediocre).
Including non-average people is the DEFINITION of diversity.

Jul 17, 2019
Nobody becomes a lesbian to please their parents


There was one girl that I know of, who was very unattractive and could never get a boy to ask her on a date. So she turned to lesbianism. Notice that most lesbians are fat and unattractive? Very few are gook looking.

Jul 17, 2019
@Surveillance_Egg_Unit,
Go to google.com
Type "what is intersex?"
Click "search".

You're welcome.

Jul 17, 2019
Everyone acknowledges that being a tomboy, having green eyes, or liking butter pecan ice-cream is "abnormal" (a.k.a. ordinary, average, mediocre).
Including non-average people is the DEFINITION of diversity.


Having green eyes and liking ice cream? Very poor argument.
Diversity is most often about race, religion, politics and life style/culture. Green eyes doesn't factor in it.

Jul 17, 2019
@Surveillance_Egg_Unit,
Go to google.com
Type "what is intersex?"
Click "search".

You're welcome.


I don't find such abnormalities as interesting as you apparently do. I will pass on that.

Jul 17, 2019
Nobody becomes a lesbian to please their parents

There was one girl that I know of, who was very unattractive and could never get a boy to ask her on a date. So she turned to lesbianism.

And when she grew up she became HOT... :-)
She was my excuse to become a lesbian, too...:-)

Jul 17, 2019
It looks like the assertion about girls "choosing" not to pursue STEM isn't in the study, it's speculation by this website. Just more of the same trite, poorly reasoned crap from the status quo crowd. This comment thread is clear evidence that we need more diversity in STEM.
says gustily

As the saying goes: "You can lead a horse to water, but you can't make it drink". Girls who don't fall in love with STEM and dedicate their lives to it passionately, are not going to be good at it.
Even some boys manage to flunk the tests and eventually drop out.
STEM fields are not a hobby to jump into and out at will. It takes years of hard mental work to achieve the level of knowledge, status, and standing within the STEM communities. To make a name for yourself with your own research achievements is a dream that not everyone attains.
Most girls are not willing to bypass marriage, children and a home of their own for a STEM research job that may or may not be successful

Jul 17, 2019
Nobody becomes a lesbian to please their parents

There was one girl that I know of, who was very unattractive and could never get a boy to ask her on a date. So she turned to lesbianism.

And when she grew up she became HOT... :-)
She was my excuse to become a lesbian, too...:-)
says the Whyde guy

LOL you old vulture. Your wife was probably beautiful and still is. If you haven't divorced yet, you never will.

Jul 17, 2019
Nobody becomes a lesbian to please their parents

Come on.
Everybody loves a lesbian.

Jul 17, 2019
Nobody becomes a lesbian to please their parents

Come on.
Everybody loves a lesbian.


Whyde became a male lesbian long ago and proudly brags about it. Isn't that right, Whyde?
:)

Jul 17, 2019
Wow, sexist much?

Just askin'.

Jul 17, 2019
There is no doubt that society and peer pressure have a large effect on the career path one chooses. 50 years ago there were very few female cops and very few male nurses. Now both are acceptable. Children form a sexual identity at a very young age and will tend to emulate a parent of the same sex.

Jul 17, 2019
Children pick up a lot of attitudes from their parents. Racism and sexism are the two most common.

Jul 17, 2019
Gender is a range, not a binary category.

if we want to put to rest arguments about bias, you have to run the study with exceptions to each potential bias.

Want to remove cultural bias among women? Compare avg women to women who only differ in their cultural upbringing (tomboys, parents who did not push traditional female roles on their children)

Want to remove epi-genetic bias (hormones etc) among women or men, compare avg women to women who have unusually high testosterone, or avg men to men who have unusually high estrogen or low testosterone.

Want to remove genetic bias ...compare avg men or women to individuals who are xxy.

Do it in a western culture, eastern, ...as many different ones as you can. Almost definitely it's a mixture of influences from all 3 that vary in magnitude but with cultural being vastly more influential than any other predisposition.

Jul 17, 2019
Children pick up a lot of attitudes from their parents. Racism and sexism are the two most common.


Good thing that you didn't have any children, Schneib. Look at what they would have picked up from YOU!!

Jul 17, 2019
Gender is a range, not a binary category.

if we want to put to rest arguments about bias, you have to run the study with exceptions to each potential bias.

Want to remove cultural bias among women? Compare avg women to women who only differ in their cultural upbringing (tomboys, parents who did not push traditional female roles on their children)

...remove epi-genetic bias (hormones etc) among women or men, compare avg women to women who have unusually high testosterone, or avg men to men who have unusually high estrogen or low testosterone.

Want to remove genetic bias ...compare avg men or women to individuals who are xxy.

Do it in a western culture, eastern, ...as many different ones as you can. Almost definitely it's a mixture of influences from all 3 that vary in magnitude but with cultural being vastly more influential than any other predisposition.


Do it in a Muslim country like Iran or Afghanistan and they will gladly push you off a tall building

Jul 17, 2019
This is simple enough.
Look at how the brain is wired. Males are wired from the front to the back. Giving a slightly faster brain, more akin to problem solving of a more physical complex nature.
Female brains are wired from side to side via the hippocampi. The hippocampi is the centre for communication and memory formation inter alia. Which gives girls an advantage in communication and memory skills.
Brains change as we age. The older brain is more adapt at picturing large scenarios.
A smart Government would use these natural skills. Instead of trying to make somebody into something there not. Wasting resources.

Jul 17, 2019
Nobody becomes a lesbian to please their parents

Come on.
Everybody loves a lesbian.


Whyde became a male lesbian long ago and proudly brags about it. Isn't that right, Whyde?
:)

I was born this way....

Jul 18, 2019
Anyone one who is honest with themselves women can do almost anything men can do and men can do almost anything women can do. Our brains are fantastic. That being said, Why is academia trying to tell women and men who they should or shouldn't be. Academia thinks they are smarter than evolution, when no amount of science can actually improve anything. There are too many variables.

Jul 18, 2019
Anyone one who is honest with themselves women can do almost anything men can do and men can do almost anything women can do. Our brains are fantastic. That being said, Why is academia trying to tell women and men who they should or shouldn't be
Sorry tabula rasa is dead. In the last 40 years we gots evolutionary biology which says that the tropical human animal has 2 sexes and their behavior is inextricably determined by their differing biologies.
Academia thinks they are smarter than evolution, when no amount of science can actually improve anything
So you spout tabula rasa and then evoke evolution? This indicates you're clueless.

The other behavioral determinant, apart from our various mental malformities, is tribalism. Tribalism says we were domesticated to live in tribes. Tribal living comes with a whole suite of very unnatural behaviors which, after 1000s of gens, have become genetically ingrained.
Cont>

Jul 18, 2019
Domestication is NOT tabula rasa. Sure, we can be trained to do tricks but nature of those tricks is constrained by the tribal dynamic: internal altruism in conjunction with external animosity.

Women may willingly surrender their natural desire to make babies, even though as tropical animals THAT is their primary function. Sometimes the tribe needs to grow and sometimes it needs to refrain from growing, and women perceive these necessities and comply with them because we are ALL tribalists.

Reducing growth is now the universal mandate. The perception in western society is that the earth is full and we must do anything to avoid reproducing. Teenagers are now children instead of the adults their biologies say they are. They must sit in classrooms during their most fecund years, and establish careers before making their optional 2.1 babies.

They get to select the very best donor for each and every child they wish to bear, which IS the natural prerogative of any female animal.


Jul 18, 2019
@Darth, this will remove bias from the scientific results, but it's not going to affect the sexists. OTOH, removing bias from the scientific results is a Good Thing. I'm sure you get this, I'm just speaking for the lurkerz.

Jul 18, 2019
What comes across more as political desperation that truth seeking. Always trying to explain women not going into "science" fields by something unrelated to "science" being forced on the women. They need to have people who look like them in the fields. They need to have depictions of female characters in "science" fields in entertainment. They perceive work in the "science" fields as "non feminine". Every few months or so another "scholarly" and "reliable" "explanation" for women not being in "science" fields. But not a single one suggests that they're not in those fields because they don't want to be there! But the "scientists" "looking into" the situation will never, ever admit that! There seems an unmentioned pot of money out there that they want to cash in on by getting a lot of women into the "sciences". The "scientists" evidently won't admit the truth! They're acting only out of greed!

Jul 18, 2019
To think this was just a study of girls advantage in reading

It is wildly known
Girls excel in language
Foreth
For obvious reasons
Girls are more social
Are more talkative
Which is why, you will not see a rush of girls, in darkened rooms, writing lines of code
For
Girls live in the here and now
In the sun
Gifted with this grasp of language
and
Girls excel at mathematics leaving these boys wanting
And when it's time to leave college
Girls put these skills to a use that you cannot see in industry

Jul 18, 2019
". But not a single one suggests that they're not in those fields because they don't want to be there! "

YUP, why are there so few female auto mechanics? For that matter why are there so few females that are willing to change a flat tire on a car? They Don't Want To!!!!

Jul 18, 2019
Julian is correct when he brings up the monetary rewards of grants and how these grants alter the path of research. The son of a friend has his doctorate. What does he do for a living, he advises others how to structure their research in order to qualify for grants. In other words the results of the research are clouded before it is even begun.

Jul 18, 2019
For
Girls live in the here and now
In the sun
Gifted with this grasp of language
and
Girls excel at mathematics leaving these boys wanting
"Where the boys are
Someone waits for me,
A smiling face, a warm embrace,
Two arms to hold me tenderly
Where the boys are
My true love will be,
He's walking down some street in town
And I know he's looking there for me
In the crowd of a million people
I'll find my valentine,
Then I'll climb to the highest steeple
And tell the world he's mine
'Til he holds me
I wait impatiently..."

-You retard.

Im assuming your affliction is not OCD but then maybe it is.

Jul 18, 2019
BTW

"Where the boys are
Someone waits for me,
A smiling face, a warm embrace,
Two arms to hold me tenderly
Where the boys are
My true love will be,
He's walking down some street in town
And I know he's looking there for me
In the crowd of a million people
I'll find my valentine,
Then I'll climb to the highest steeple
And tell the world he's mine
'Til he holds me
I wait impatiently..."

-If math is indeed a language like schneip says it is, then perhaps he could translate this using equations for us?

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