Equality is often put as a highest value and any perceived inequality is presumed to be a matter of oppression. When groups are involved, the accusations of some ‘ism’ comes to the fore. The Bell Curve is one example of numbers telling one tale but desires demanding another. That was race. Gender is another one. Mark Perry says that the 2016 SAT test results confirm pattern that’s persisted for 45 years — high school boys are better at math than girls. Five tales of the numbers are described.
Bottom Line: Even though female high school students are better prepared academically than their male classmates on many different measures of academic success, both overall and for mathematics specifically, female high school students score significantly lower on the SAT math test, and the +30-point differences in test scores favoring males has persisted for several generations and exists across all ethnic groups.
Despite the persistent, statistically significant differences in math performance by gender on the math SAT test that have continued for close to a half century, we hear statements like this: “There just aren’t gender differences anymore in math performance,”
Further, the fact that women are underrepresented in STEM occupations and hold only 26% of STEM jobs according to a 2013 Department of Commerce report certainly isn’t because female students are being discouraged from studying math and science in high school. In fact, the evidence shows that females are excelling in math and science in high school – they outnumber males in AP/Honors math and science courses, and are more likely than their male counterparts to take four years of math and science courses.
Further, compared to boys, high school girls get better grades on average, and are far more likely to graduate in the top 10% of their high school classes, and are much more likely than boys to attend and graduate from college and go on to graduate schools. By all objective measures, girls have essentially all of the necessary ingredients that should result in greater representation in STEM fields like engineering and computer science except perhaps for one: a huge, statistically significant and persistent 30-point gender gap on the SAT math test in favor of boys that has persisted for more than 40 years. If there are some inherent gender differences for mathematical ability, as the huge and persistent gender differences for the math SAT test suggests, closing the STEM gender degree and job gaps may be a futile attempt in socially engineering an unnatural and unachievable outcome.
In other words, girls take the classes, get better grades, and still don’t test as well. That is why the testing is under assault. The axiom is that there are no differences between genders and that has driven a lot of push to remedy supposed imposed gender bias that must have been the cause of observed disparities. That axiom is not one subject to test or reality and the result is a lot of misplaced expenditure and effort. The efforts to force equality are having implications that may be causing more harm than good.
If you think something needs fixing, the first thing to do is to get a good grip on reality and make sure you understand it properly.