Girls Rule in Science, Except in the United States

Illustration for article titled Girls Rule in Science, Except in the United States

Based on a broad science exam given in 2009 to 470,000 15-year-old students in 65 countries, girls outperformed boys in many nations. You go get it, future lady Ichthyologists* of the world! Unfortunately, there's one place teen girls fell painfully short — the United States. Maybe there's something in the water here that makes boys better at biology?

Or maybe, as Andreas Schleicher, the person who oversees the tests, points out, different countries offer different incentives for learning science and math. In the United States, he said, boys are more likely than girls to "see science as something that affects their life."

Also, cultural codes:

"We see that very early in childhood - around age 4 - gender roles in occupations appear to be formed," said Christianne Corbett, co-author of the 2010 report "Why So Few? Women in Science, Technology, Engineering and Math." "Women are less likely to go into science careers, although they are clearly capable of succeeding."

Researchers say these cultural forces are strong in the United States, Britain and Canada but far less pervasive in Russia, Asia and the Middle East, which have a much higher proportion of women in science and engineering. In Jordan, for example, girls score more than 8 percent better in science than boys do.

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And with that, we all went out to buy our daughters and nieces all the ScienceWiz Chemistry Plus kits ever made. Then, we'll all blow some shit up, and sit down to read biographies of Barbara McClintock and Emilie du Chatelet. Rinse and repeat.

*and whatever else science-y you wish to pursue, you don't just have to study fish. Although, seriously, someone needs to deal with the death of the ocean animals. /BUZZKILL.

[NY Times]

Image via Zurijeta / Shutterstock.

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DISCUSSION

Vanessaxoxo
Vanessaxoxo

Isn't it true though that in China, Russia, Iran and other countries where there are many more women scientists, that there's sort of an expectation that you will get into a "stable" career and science is just one of options out of doctor, engineer and lawyer? I've heard many of my friends make comments like, "my parents would have killed me if I became a chef" or "I was given 5 options and I chose that one". I've also seen so many women who were in more Science-based careers leave them to pursue their "real" passions in their adult life when they weren't tied to their parents' expectations as much. So is that American have different gender roles or that these women from other countries don't have much choice to deviate away from what is expected of them?