Mummy Buzz


Are Boys are Better at Math Than Girls?

Why Gender Has No Bearing on Number Crunching

The next time your daughter slams her algebra homework, feed her this nugget of hope. A major international study from the University of Wisconsin-Whitewater, published in the Notices of the American Mathematical Society debunks the myth that boys are naturally better at math than girls.
If there does exist an inequality in math performance due to gender, it is down to social and cultural factors, not biology.
In 2005, Lawrence Summers, then president of Harvard, talked about the "scarcity of outstanding women mathematicians" in terms of innate ability. But this latest study by Mertz and Jonathan Kane, professors of mathematical and computer sciences, refuted that claim after examining data from 86 countries.

What the researchers found instead, was that math results tended to be low across both genders in countries where there exists greater gender inequality. And the converse was true, too.

"We found that boys—as well as girls—tend to do better in math when raised in countries where females have better equality, and that's new and important," says Kane. "It makes sense that when women are well-educated and earn a good income, the math scores of their children of both genders benefit."

Mertz added that where math is concerned, gender equity benefited both males and females, improving their skills in a "win-win situation."

Want your daughter to do better at math? Then build her confidence. You heard it straight from the mathematician's mouth: gender has no bearing on number crunching.