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Girls Like Biology, Boys Like Physics?

We all have our stereotypes about which subjects appeal more to girls or boys. Well, in perusing a new report on the Advanced Placement program, I was intrigued to discover some hard data to help shed light on the matter. In addition to reporting participation on AP exams by racial and ethnic groups, the College Board's eighth annual "AP Report to the Nation" includes the gender breakdown for all subjects tested. The data are for public school test-takers from the class of 2011.

Some of what I learned may not surprise readers. Males dominate AP Computer Science and physics courses, for instance. Females dominate AP Art History and English Language and Composition.

But not all of the findings were obvious.

Participation in the popular Calculus AB program was about evenly divided, but in the Calculus BC course, males were more heavily weighted (59 percent) than females.

Meanwhile, AP Biology was more popular with females (59 percent), while males were apparently more into ap Music Theory (58 percent).

In a majority of subjects, the gender preference appears to be fairly pronounced. For example, more girls prefer courses in art history, biology, English literature and composition, French language and culture, psychology, Spanish language, studio art, and drawing.

More boys like: Calculus BC; Computer Science; Computer Science AB; Physics C, Electricity and Magnetism; and Physics C, Mechanics.

—Erik W. Robelen


Marriages Across Racial, Ethnic Lines on Rise

As the number of couples marrying across racial and ethnic lines continues to grow in the United States, public attitudes toward intermarriage are also becoming more accepting, according to a new report by the Pew Research Center.

Couples of differing races or ethnic backgrounds comprised 15.1 percent of all new marriages in 2010, while the share of all current marriages that are either interracial or interethnic reached an all-time high of 8.4 percent, Pew found. In 1980, just 3 percent of all marriages and less than 7 percent of new marriages were across rcial or ethnic lines.

Asians and Hispanics have the highest rate of intermarriage, and, in 2010, more than a quarter of newlyweds in each group married someone of a different race or ethnicity, according to Pew.

The interracial couplings with the most education—and earning the most money—are those between Asians and whites. Hispanics and blacks who married outside their group are more likely to have college degrees.

Pew's survey of American attitudes toward this growing trend of intermarriage found that 43 percent of Americans view it as a good change for society, while around 11 percent say it's bad. The rest say it doesn't make a difference.

Of course, there are important issues for schools to consider because with more intermarried couples will come more students who are biracial or multiethnic. It could certainly present challenges on the data-collection side of things for schools that must demonstrate that students of all races and ethnicities are reaching certain academic targets.

If a student has an Asian mother and a black father, do his scores get counted among those of Asian students or African-American students?

—Lesli A. Maxwell

Vol. 31, Issue 22, Page 8

Published in Print: February 29, 2012, as Blogs of the Week
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