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The definitive answer: gender disparity in math ability is NOT biological

From the American Mathematical Society, in its publication Notices, an excellent, thorough, full-of-data article was published: Debunking Myths about Gender and Mathematics Performance. It can be read for free at the link. The conclusion is that it is socioeconomic factors. Here you have it:

Conclusions


In summary, we conclude that gender equity and  other sociocultural factors, not national income, school type, or religion per se, are the primary determinants of mathematics performance at all levels for both boys and girls. Our findings are consistent with the gender stratified hypothesis, but not with the greater male variability, gap due to inequity, single-gender classroom, or Muslim culture hypotheses. At the individual level, this conclusion suggests that well-educated women who earn a good income are much better positioned than are poorly educated women who earn little or no money to ensure that the educational needs of their children of either gender with regard to learning mathematics are well met.

It is fully consistent with socioeconomic status of the home environment being a primary determinant for success of children in school. At the national level, the United States ranked only thirty-first in mean mathematics performance out of the sixty-five countries that participated in the 2009 PISA. Eliminating gender discrimination in pay and employment opportunities could be part of a win-win formula for producing an adequate supply of future workers with high-level competence in mathematics.

Wealthy countries that fail to provide gender equity in employment are at risk of producing too few citizens of either gender with the skills necessary to compete successfully in a knowledge-based economy driven by science and technology.

But please go to the article, they tested many hypotheses and there are lots of graphs and table representing the data very nicely. The study involves data from many countries, as well as single-sex vs mixed schools, etc. Larry Summers was wrong. 

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Replies to This Discussion

Thanks Adriana.

Something that I knew instinctively all along because I realised early in life the girls were just as smart as us boys. Maybe it could be that when looking for a life mate I tended towards girls who had brains and could apply them. 

So this is for me is a conformation of my thoughts and ideas about the female of the species.

It took me a while to discover this but now I know: girls are smarter than boys =/

I wouldn't go as far as that. There is a lot of variation, and I think the gaussian distribution is probably very similar in boys and girls. 

You are in denial =)

Everybody's a loser in mixed classes, and boys suffer the most.

And other than in a few countries (Australia, Iran, Korea and Syria in the table above) girls seem to generally do better, in mixed or single-gender classes...

But the funny thing is that in New South Wales in the late 90's they were complaining about the actual scholastic achievement of boys in all areas of the curriculum. Specifically in maths and science. But that is only one state of six and a couple of territories.

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