News / Science & Technology

Girls Get Better Grades than Boys, Even in Math and Science

File - Pupils of Winnie Ngwekasi Primary School in Soweto study in a classroom in Johannesburg, South Africa, November 2009.File - Pupils of Winnie Ngwekasi Primary School in Soweto study in a classroom in Johannesburg, South Africa, November 2009.
File - Pupils of Winnie Ngwekasi Primary School in Soweto study in a classroom in Johannesburg, South Africa, November 2009.
File - Pupils of Winnie Ngwekasi Primary School in Soweto study in a classroom in Johannesburg, South Africa, November 2009.

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Think boys get better grades in math and science than their female counterparts? Think again.
A new study of academic performance in more than 30 countries and spanning nearly a century shows girls do better than boys in math and science as well as other subjects.
“Although gender differences follow essentially stereotypical patterns on achievement tests in which boys typically score higher on math and science, females have the advantage on school grades regardless of the material,” said lead study author Daniel Voyer, PhD, of the University of New Brunswick, Fredericton, Canada in a statement.
“School marks reflect learning in the larger social context of the classroom and require effort and persistence over long periods of time, whereas standardized tests assess basic or specialized academic abilities and aptitudes at one point in time without social influences,” he added.
Voyer’s data, which spanned from 1914 to 2011, showed that the grade gap between girls and boys was widest for language courses and most narrow with math and science, according to the study published in that American Psychological Association’s  journal Psychological Bulletin.
The study also showed that the better grades among girls in math and science was not evident until middle school. The gap grew from elementary to middle school and then narrowed between high school and college.
“The fact that females generally perform better than their male counterparts throughout what is essentially mandatory schooling in most countries seems to be a well-kept secret, considering how little attention it has received as a global phenomenon,” said co-author Susan Voyer, MASc, also of the University of New Brunswick in a statement.
Daniel Voyer echoed these sentiments.
“Test scores have been used to perpetuate this notion for a long time, even though recent research shows that gender differences have essentially disappeared on them, at least in math,” he said in an email. “It is hard to get rid of a stereotype.”
Some possible reasons for girls performing better could be that because parents assume boys will be better at math and science, they may encourage girls to try harder. This, the researchers say, could explain why girls get better grades in all courses.
The authors also said learning style differences between girls and boys could also explain the gap. Previous research, they said, shows that girls “tend to study in order to understand the materials, whereas boys emphasize performance, which indicates a focus on the final grades."
“Mastery of the subject matter generally produces better marks than performance emphasis, so this could account in part for males’ lower marks than females,” the authors wrote.
Earlier this week, the National Center for Education Statistics released data showing that in the U.S. girls had a higher high school graduation rate, 84 percent, than boys who had a rate of 77 percent.
Daniel Voyer hopes the research will spark more research.
“It might get people to look outside the classroom for solutions to the underachievement in boys,” he said. “Our view is that there are multiple factors involved, making this a societal issue.
He added that educational decision makers need to change their views about stereotypes of boys and girls.
“With enough publicity about relevant findings, we might convince the public that they need to treat their boys and girls equitably,” he said.

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Comment Sorting
by: Nick Carbone from: Los Angeles, CA
May 16, 2014 2:53 PM

Girls have received remedial equalizing attention while
boys, owing to the religious right, have received
transference of witchhunt of masculine insecurity,
such that they're preoccupied asserting gender
(boys hurt animals, men don't, but do if they need
asserting masculinity.)

It served the billionaire replacing democracy with
privatization and the mouthpiece demonizing whomever

It had a populational effect.

by: Duckworth Ann
May 01, 2014 11:49 PM
If we are to end the ever spiraling fall of Male achievement, we must begin to understand how our individual environments and yes, differential treatment by gender is hurting Male achievement in school and now in the workplace. We must see how the more aggressive treatment beginning as early as one year of age and increased as Male grow are creating higher average stress that does take away mental energy. This aggressive treatment, insufficient, and unkind mental/emotional/social/verbal creates social/emotional distance; lags in social vocabulary; more distrust of adults; lags in mental/emotional/social skills; and higher muscle tension that hurts reading, writing, and other communication needs for education. It creates more activity for stress relief (not genetic) and more escape behavior to gain love/honor from peers through sports, vidio games; and risk taking.
Observe how the more kind, stable, consistent, verbal interaction and other mental/emotional/social supports from infancy through adulthood, help girls maintain lower average stress; lower muscle tension; higher social vocabulary; and other more supportive communication with peers and adults. This better treatment is what is necessary to compete in the information age. If society does not look in this area, there will be a critical point in which Males will begin to fall behind and then react much more violently to reclaim lost feelings of self-worth. Learning theory will go to all on request.

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