Survey confounds traditional belief that girls have no aptitude for maths


US:THE NOTION that boys are better at maths simply doesn't add up, according to a study published yesterday in the journal Science, writes Wendy Hansen.

An analysis of standardised test scores from more than 7.2 million US students of all schoolgoing ages found no difference in maths scores for girls and boys, contradicting a pervasive belief that most women aren't hard-wired for careers in science and technology.

The study also undermined the assumption - espoused by former Harvard University president Lawrence Summers in 2005 - that boys are more likely to be maths geniuses. Girls scored in the top 5 per cent almost as often as boys, the data showed.

"Both parents and teachers continue to hold the stereotype that boys are better than girls," said psychologist Janet Hyde of the University of Wisconsin at Madison, who led the study. "That's just not accurate."

Hyde and her colleagues examined data from math tests administered between 2005 to 2007. Comparing the average scores of girls and boys in 10 states, the researchers found that neither gender consistently outpaced the other.

Even test questions from the National Assessment of Education Progress that were designed to measure complex reasoning skills found that gender differences were minuscule, according to the study.- (LA Times-Washington Post service)