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Math Roundup

June 20, 2008

A large international study suggests that girls only lag behind boys in math achievement in cultures where gender inequality remains a problem.


Are girls really bad at math? I’m Bob Hirshon and this is Science Update.

Test scores show that by high school, girls tend lag behind boys in math. In the Journal Science, researchers report on a detailed analysis of test scores of over 275,000 15-year-olds from 40 countries. The scientists ranked the countries based on gender equity. They found that countries like Norway, that scored high on gender equity, had no math gap—girls did as well as boys did. In countries that had the lowest rating on gender equity, girls lagged the furthest behind. That suggests that the gap in math performance is a matter of culture, rather than genes.

In other science news, researchers in England have found that starlings are extremely perceptive. If a person stood near their bird feeder and looked directly at it, the birds would avoid it. If the person stayed just as close but looked elsewhere, the birds would dart in for a snack. I’m Bob Hirshon for AAAS, the Science Society.