Correlates of the Gender Gap

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Science  17 Jul 2009:
Vol. 325, Issue 5938, pp. 246
DOI: 10.1126/science.325_246d

In 2003, the Trends in International Mathematics and Science Study (TIMSS) assessed 8th graders on standardized math and science tests. The median score by country for boys was 516 and for girls 506. Nosek et al. have studied the relation between gender stereotyping in the general population and student performance on these tests. In their virtual laboratory, any visitor can take an implicit association test (IAT) in any of 17 languages. In more than 500,000 tests collected from 2000 to 2008, roughly 70% of participants tended to associate words representing male with science faster than with liberal arts, and associated words representing female with liberal arts faster than with science. Across 34 countries, the male-female gap measured in the TIMSS correlated with the association of science and male as assessed in the IAT, with one standard deviation in stereotyping equivalent to 6.3 points on the standardized tests. The association of implicit (but not explicit) stereotypes in adults (mean age 27) with national test scores in kids suggests that initiatives aimed at reducing the gap will need to be multifaceted.

Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. U.S.A. 106, 10593 (2009).

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