The journal article underlying this report was not yet online at the time of writing but there is an extended summary here. The research seems to be based on school tests rather than IQ tests. That is rather stupid. Girls mature faster so are mentally older than boys of the same chronological age. Girls also work harder at school. It is in adulthood that underlying differences have to be sought and there is no doubt about the findings there.

The journal reference is: Nicole M. Else-Quest, Janet Shibley Hyde, Marcia C. Linn. Cross-National Patterns of Gender Differences in Mathematics: A Meta-Analysis. Psychological Bulletin, 2010; 136 (1): 103-127. Excerpt from a popular summary below

Girls are just as good at maths as boys but fail to pursue the subject because they lack confidence in their abilities, a global study has found. Research among almost half a million students in 69 countries debunked the myth that boys are better at maths.

But the stereotype is putting talented girls off following careers related to the subject, such as engineering, information technology and science, according to the U.S. researchers.

The study, by a team from Villanova University in Philadelphia, was based on international tests taken by 493,495 students. Professor Nicole Else-Quest, from the university, said: ‘These results show that girls will perform at the same level as the boys when they are given the right educational tools and have visible female role models excelling in mathematics. ‘Stereotypes about female inferiority in mathematics are a distinct contrast to the scientific data.’ She said the results showed an even spread of scores between girls and boys.

The research, published in the American Psychological Association’s Psychological Bulletin, also looked at the level of confidence both boys and girls had when completing the tests. ‘Despite overall similarities in math skills, boys felt significantly more confident in their abilities than girls did and were more motivated to do well,’ said Professor Else-Quest.


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