Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Why So Few? High School Foundation I

The 2010 report entitled, Why So Few? Women in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics, by the American Association of University Women (AAUW), describes how girls’ and women’s performance and participation in STEM fields have changed over time. Women have made tremendous progress in education and the workplace during the past 50 years, including progress in scientific and engineering fields.

Although, historically, boys outperformed girls in math and science, the gender gap has narrowed over time, and today girls are doing as well as boys in math in school by most measures. For example, in high school, girls’ average performance and participation in math and science has improved over time and, in some cases, has surpassed that of boys.

The graph above shows the average number of high school credits earned in math and science combined, by gender, between 1990 and 2005 (the most recent year for which data were available). Girls are in green and boys are in purple. Over time all students, both boys and girls, are taking more math and science credits - both lines are going up - and girls now earn more credits in math and science than boys do.

What math and science courses are high school students taking? The graph above shows the percentage of high school graduates who took selected math and science courses, by gender, in 2005. High school girls are more likely to take biology, chemistry, and pre-calculus compared with boys; however, girls are less likely to take physics compared with boys. Although girls are also slightly less likely to take calculus and engineering courses in high school compared with boys, the gender difference is most likely not statistically significant. 

Note: much of this text is from the AAUW ppt describing highlights of the Why So Few? report.