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Study Finds More Girls in STEM Classes

"Gender Differences in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) Interest, Credits Earned, and NAEP Performance in the 12th Grade"

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More girls are taking high school courses in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics, but their science and mathematics test results still lag behind those of boys, according to a new analysis from the National Center for Education Statistics.

The data, from both the 2009 National Assessment of Education Progress in mathematics and science and the High School Transcript Study, show that among those who graduated from high school in 2009, girls were more likely than boys to have earned credit in advanced mathematics and science, including Algebra 2, chemistry, biology, and health sciences, though boys were significantly more likely to earn credit in computer science and engineering.

That continues a long, slow increase in girls' participation in higher mathematics and science courses since 2000.

Why then do the data also show that overall, girls continued to underperform in small but persistent ways across several stem-related parts of the 2009?

One possibility is that male students were still much more likely to earn credit in engineering classes than female students were. However, the girls who did take those classes matched or outperformed their male classmates on the NAEP in mathematics and science.

The overall performance difference could reflect lower interest in stem on the part of the female students studied. In each of the main racial groups, male students tended to be more likely than female students to say they "like" science. And there was a similar gender breakdown for mathematics in each racial group.

Vol. 34, Issue 22, Page 5

Published in Print: February 25, 2015, as Study Finds More Girls in STEM Classes
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