Girls are just as good as boys in mathematics


Washington: Girls worldwide are just as good or bad at maths as boys, even though the latter are more confident in their abilities, according to a new international analysis.

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But girls from countries where gender equity is more established are more likely to perform better on math tests, the report said.

“Stereotypes about female inferiority in mathematics are a distinct contrast to the actual scientific data,” said Nicole Else-Quest, psychology professor at Villanova University in the US, who led the study.

“These results show that girls will perform at the same level as boys when they are given the right educational tools and have visible female role models excelling in mathematics.”

The finding that girls around the world appear to have less confidence in their mathematical abilities could help explain why young girls are less likely than boys to pursue careers in science, technology, engineering and mathematics.

Else-Quest and associates examined data from the Trends in International Mathematics and Science Study (TIMSS) and the Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA), representing 493,495 students aged between 14-16 years from 69 countries.

The results from both the studies were released in 2003, and not all countries participated in both assessments, said a Villanova release.

TIMSS focuses on basic maths knowledge, while the PISA test assesses students’ ability to use their maths skills in the real world. The researchers felt these two tests offered a good sampling of students’ maths abilities.

These findings were reported in the latest issue of Psychological Bulletin.