Cross-Cultural Analysis of Achievement Gap in Math

Posted by on October 20, 2008

U.S. said to be wasting math talent

Negative attitudes about girls involved in mathematics — whether shown through teasing, ignoring, or ostracizing them — are depriving the nation of some of its best math talent, says Reuters in reporting on research published in the Notices of the American Mathematical Society. The study challenges a widely held notion that females lack exceptional math abilities. It points to test results in elementary school showing that girls do as well in math as boys do, if not better than that. But the girls’ results begin to lag in middle school and the male-female gap widens greatly in high school. The study also found that most women who become math or engineering professionals in the United States were born in other countries, particularly in Eastern Europe and Asia. Comments Titu Andreescu of the University of Texas at Dallas, one of the researchers who worked on the study: “Innate math aptitude is probably fairly evenly distributed throughout the world, regardless of race or gender. The huge differences observed in achievement levels are most likely due to socio-cultural attributes specific to each country.”

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