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Mystery of the Missing Women in Science

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male and female science students, illustration

Credit: The New York Times

Although test scores prove that girls have science and math aptitude equal to that of boys, many girls choose not to pursue these fields. Average math scores for girls worldwide are equal to those of boys, and girls in U.S. high schools have higher grade point averages in math and science, with a 2.76 GPA compared with 2.56 for boys.

Male and female ninth graders rated boys and girls equally competent in science and math in a 2009 study of more than 21,000 U.S. students by the University of Alabama's Anthony Derriso. The study also found that boys and girls were equally confident in their own math and science skills, and were equally likely to feel engaged in math and science and to feel supported by teachers, parents, and peers. However, among the 11 percent of students saying they were likely to pursue a scientific career, 61 percent were male.

Boys with high scores on the math SAT express interest in majoring in the physical sciences, engineering, or computers, while their high-scoring female counterparts prefer economics, political science, or medicine, research shows. Women account for nearly 60 percent of bachelor's degrees overall, but only 20 percent of computer science degrees, 20 percent of physics degrees, and 18 percent of engineering degrees.

From The New York Times
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