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Who’s Smarter: Girls vs. Boys?

According to the legendary myth, boys are smarter in science, technology, engineering and mathematic fields due to biological deficiencies in math aptitude. Recent studies show that this is not true. A study, by Jessica Cantlon at Carnegie Mellon University, evaluates 104 young children by scanning their brain activity while watching an educational video. When the scans were compared, it showed that both groups were equally engaged while watching the videos and there was no difference in how boys and girls processed math skills. To further this study, researchers compared brain maturity in connection to skill, by using brain scans of adults who watched the same educational video. Which concluded that the brains scans in adults and children -of both genders-  were statistically equivalent. This study confirmed the idea that math activities, in both genders, take place in the intraparietal suclus, which is the area of the brain involved in processing numbers, addition and subtraction, and estimating.

So, why are mathematic and computer science fields predominantly males? Well, it could be for the held stereotype that women and girls are biologically inferior at mathematics. This conventional image could also be linked to the fact that females were prevented from pursuing higher education until the 19th century. To show this unconscious bias, an Implicit Association Test was taken by employers. This test reveals an unconscious bias by forcing you to quickly group various words together. If the word man was immediately linked to math, then an implicit bias is shown. This study unveiled the prejudice that men were twice as likely to be hired for a simple math job since, men and women employers displayed a prejudice against women for a perceived lack of mathematical skill.

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  1. melaria

    Trnayon, what an interesting and relevant post! I love the connection between science and gender norms. Helenogenous’s comment about males higher performance in math activities unrelated to school made me curious about standardize testing margins. College Board released their 2016 SAT results, which showed that males outperformed females on the math section by around 30 points. In addition, when looking at the 100,000 test takers with the highest scores, 61.5% were males and 38.5% were females. Furthermore, 9.4% of males scored in the 700-800 range for the math section while only 5.1% of female test takers scored in the same range. These static’s took into account the amount of females and males who participated in the SAT and the different ethnic groups, even providing evidence that males performed better in math regardless of ethnic background. Many professors and researchers argue that there is no difference between the performance of males and females in the STEM field, something young females should remember whenever feeling marginalized! Hopefully we see more social and statistical change in favor of females in the future!

  2. helenogenous

    Wow @TRNAYON, your blogpost really brought up some interesting ideas and points, especially given that gender identity is such a prevalent topic of conversation currently. Although stereotypes pervade so many elements of our society, it is noteworthy that there are minimal differences that were found among males and females according to your blogpost. I found a similar article that looks into potential differences between male and female aptitudes in math. I noticed in this article that there were no major differences between male and female performance in math when it was related to what is taught in school. However this article reported that boys tend to score higher on math related activities that are not school related. Do you think based on this blogpost and this new article that there is any science to report as to why boys would be scoring higher on non-school math?

  3. EvoluChen

    I like how this post not only answered the question, but also went more in-depth on the general problem of the stereotypes. For example, how it talks about the brain of adults and of children of both genders were statistically the same, and how it talks about the subconscious bias against women. I wonder how these stereotypes started and how they were created.
    This article talks about how television contributes to these gender stereotypes

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