Friday, May 30, 2008

Girls vs boys

Girls, we have been told, are rubbish at maths. Not so, says a new study. Girls are just as good as boys if brought up in a society where men and women are treated more equally, at least according to new research in Science. If they live in Turkey they don't do nearly as well on standard tests, whereas if they live in Norway, they do just as well. Raising girls in more equal societies allows them to do just as well in maths. The only thing that boys do retain an advantage at is geometry.

Education and sex: Vital statistics
Girls are becoming as good as boys at mathematics, and are still better at reading May 29th 2008

And this also may be of interest from a few years ago. Rereading it I realise the article sort of falls flat at the end and doesn't really reach a conclusion about whether biology or culture has a greater impact on differences between men and women.

In the editorial meetings, we had a lot of arguments about what all the data actually meant and many of my colleagues had strongly held views about the origins of these differences.

My feeling then, as now, is that when it comes to inbuilt differences between the brains of men and women, ignoring the sex-related ones (which are large), the differences are mostly small. I think the cultural influences, on the contrary, can be much much greater. What this means is that, potentially, a lot of the differences we see in the differences between the brains of men and women are actually derived from upbringing.

Differences between the sexes: The mismeasure of woman. Aug 3rd 2006
Men and women think differently. But not that differently