back to article Economist: girls actually better than boys at maths

An economist in America has published research stating that girls have at least as much innate mathematical ability as boys. Paola Sapienza contends that the fact of girls almost always doing worse in maths exams results mainly from sexual discrimination. "The math gender gap can be eliminated, and it is indeed eliminated in …

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  1. Gordon Pryra
    Coat

    Considering you would need to be able to count to work out the results

    Its not suprising that her results are wrong bieng a women. Women can't count, everyone knows this!

    But to be fair, the little darling did give it a good shot!!

    Maybe there is an opening somewhere for a PA with a good head for figures?

    Mines the coat located very close to the emergency exit

  2. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Shush..

    Don't you worry your pretty little head about it.

  3. Anonymous Coward Silver badge
    Anonymous Coward

    eh?

    1. You're sure you aren't making is up? Economist named "Sapienza", study called "PISA".

    2. If we must mean sex, say gender, and look serious in so doing, why are we still allowed to used loaded terms like "girls" and "boys"?

  4. Dave

    Why did her husband let her use his computer anyway

    I think he made the chain that attaches her to the cooker too long

  5. Hywel Thomas

    How It Works

    http://xkcd.com/385/

  6. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Up

    Good one !

    Good article, really, on some a bit polemic subject. Unfortunately, yes, it seems some reasearchers have their facts tainted by whatever pre-made opinion they, had beforehand. Or bad maths.

    I personnally believe this unbalance in maths performance (at least in schools) is more complex that just sheer social discrimination.

    Hell, France in the early 90s was not Afghanistan, and the postgraduate classes in one of the best maths university of the country (where I studied) were some 1 girl for 50 blokes. No kidding. Can't be explained by a social effect that I have never noticed ...

    By the way, this is the explanation (in case, this reasearcher wants to do another study) for the unbalance of failure rates between litterature classes (extremely high) and maths classes (low) amongst boys, at university.

    You just can't succeed when sh*gging all the time !

    Anon 'cos I don't want anyone to know I was pretty low life at that time :-)

  7. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    It's not twaddle, it's utter twaddle

    So if boys do better it's sexual discrimination but if girls do better it's because they are better. I suggest that if she starts to lose the plot amongst her followers then she should take a leaf out of Hilary Clintons book and start crying. At least she'll get a bit of sympathy.

  8. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Im suprised she can stand up,

    let alown write anything. She clearly has a HUGE chip on her sholder.

    Perhaps she could explain why Girls outdo boys in Languages?

    There may be gender bias to it, but I think it is far more complex that simple "teachers are all sexist". It makes me wonder how she got funding.

  9. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Women are generally not geeky

    With my pint in my hand leaning up against the bar - I reckon girls and boys have the same potential for being good at maths, it is just that girls/females do not have the same detail obsession of boys - or once they see it they are put off. Put another way, maths/sciences are not seen as interesting or fashionable and this bothers most girls. I believe this is why there are fewer female scientists, engineers etc. and working as an engineer, I wish the numbers would even out....

  10. Phil Hare

    What about the culture effect?

    I strongly suspect that "equality" is defined differently depending on where you are in the world. There will always be some stuff men can do that women can't, and vica-versa. The balance is found in what is culturally acceptable in the location in question.

    I personally get royally pissed off every time I see an advert for a women only car insurer, as they are discriminating against me on the basis of my gender, not on my 7 year without claim proven driving ability. But it's culturally acceptable, so it happens, and I couldn't and wouldn't try and change that.

    Bottom line? People is people. The statistics will never show a fifty-fifty split either way, so let's stop wasting time on studies like this one and do stuff that really matters.

  11. Michael O'Malley

    Unbalanced folk in the USA?

    The United States only comes 31st for gender balance. So that explains why she has a poor grasp of mathematics. So, that means her figures are inaccurate. So that means it's irrelevant that the United States is so unbalanced. So . . . So . . .So . . . {poster vanishes into a puff of logic}

  12. Ted Treen
    Paris Hilton

    A step too far

    We should never have given them the vote. My Grandad said it would all end in tears...

    Paris - she knows her place

  13. Steve

    Depends what type of mathematics you look at.

    Girls tend to do better at pure maths while boys tend to do better at applied maths.

    Which explains why she's having so much trouble with the statistics.

  14. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    <no title>

    If one gender seems to do better than the other, isn't that suggestive that there wasn't 'a level playing field' anyway ? I sometimes get the impression that unless the girls do umpteen times better than the boys, then someone will still claim they were disadvantaged.

  15. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Physics vs economics

    Strange how physicists (mostly blokes I guess) can look for years for a Higgs boson and not find one. But when a woman economist looks at figures she sees a heffalump right away. This is very odd, as both activities would seem to be equally good means of extracting research funds.

  16. Francis Davey

    It all depends....

    Amazingly articles like this report research which appears to be totally innocent of very serious work that has been done on the subject of gender in mathematics education.

    Many years ago Hilary Shuard noted that if you looked at what British children were able to do between (say) 9 and 14, girls and boys were able to do well different things. There appeared (at the time) to be a fast shift between girls' mathematical ability relative to boys between primary and secondary school, but on examination this turned out to be a change in the kinds of tasks that were given to the children: girls being better at computation tasks (like long multiplication) and boys better at tasks such as equation solving.

    So: that tells us that "mathematical ability" is rather more complicated. In the British environment, computation is what is taught at primary level and the teaching is massively female dominated. That may be enough to explain the gender bias in mathematical skill noted.

  17. Anonymous Coward
    Paris Hilton

    Gender separation trumps gender equality

    There's actually a very simple explanation for these odd-sounding results which Ms. Sapienza could have learned by asking any competent educationalist or social scientist because it's been known for years:

    If you teach girls separately from boys, they perform dramatically better, especially in subjects where "traditionally" boys are expected to be stronger, such as maths and hard sciences. Put girls and boys together and, especially when adolescence hits, girls' performance in those subjects falls off a cliff. The best explanation is the massive cultural and peer pressure to be "attractive" to boys, and that starts with not humiliating them in maths tests. Oh, and what do certain gender-unequal Islamic countries have in common? Oh yeah: strict segregation of the sexes.

    A competent economist would have calculated exactly how much of the performance difference is accounted for by separate schools, how much by poverty (another known big influence on girls' education), and how much by the Equality Index. After all, Strength of Correlation is one of the things economists and social scientists are supposed to be really good at!

    Of course, it's hard to see the obvious answers with such a huge preconception blocking your view. And she also probably wouldn't have gotten a paper published in Science that way...

    Paris, because even she could have worked this out.

  18. anarchic-teapot

    Of course, it might of helped

    if they'd taken into account the _types_ of gender discrimination present in each country, rather than using an overall rating.

    Then of course, that would be expecting an economist to actually make the effort to understand and analyse sociological data.

  19. Jamie Kitson
    Paris Hilton

    hmmm

    Doesn't this just say that the GGC isn't a very good measurement in this case? A lot of Muslim countries that the west view as heavily discriminatory against women have, for example, allowed women to go to university far longer than we have.

    Paris, because someone should teach her a lesson.

  20. Joe Cooper

    @Gender separation trumps gender equality

    This actually helps boys too. Here in the US (31 on that index) the vast, vast majority of students with diagnosed "learning disorders" are male, the majority of high school drop outs are male and the majority of college students are female.

    These problems magically go away in schools with segregated classes, even if they're still mixed at break time.

  21. Anonymous Coward
    Coat

    Equality isn't all it's cracked up to be

    I'm a lady girl, and I quite like men holding doors open for me, paying for meals, and generally treating me nicer than they treat their male friends. Wouldn't necessarily want to be 'equal'. Although I can down a pint like the best of them, and I do have a maths degree... That's the best thing about being a girl. You can play with dolls and cars. You can wear short skirts or baggy jeans. You can have the best of everything. Women will never be equal cos we're better :-D

  22. Anonymous Coward
    Boffin

    Fettle of the sexes

    As an undergraduate, I remember physics having hardly any women, mathematics being of a 50/50 split, and biology a strictly ladies-only discipline. These disparities continued to docterate level.

    Oh, how I wish I'd become a biologist.

  23. Anonymous Coward
    Coat

    Yes but can she cook?

    <....> sexist joke redacted

  24. Ed

    More statistically insignificant data

    When I was in elementary school, the top performers during math were all girls, except when test time came around - during tests, I ranked up there with the girls, the only boy able to compete. (I didn't do my homework.)

    When I was in junior high, the top performers in math were mostly girls, with a few boys in the mix. Come test time, I dominated. (I still didn't do my homework.)

    When I was in high school, I was in honors math, and just being in my math class indicated high math skills. 2/3 of the class was male, 1/3 female. The girl who cared not at all for fashion was top, followed closely by the boy who was eventually valedictorian, then the school Feminist[1], followed by me (did homework, but bigger pond -> smaller fish.)

    When I was in college, I was in double-honors math, and just being in my freshman math class was fairly ridiculous. Sixteen boys, two women. Neither woman cared at all for fashion, and neither woman admitted outside of our class that she was in double-honors calculus: one claimed she was in regular calculus, the other that she wasn't taking a math class (when pressed, she admitted, yes, she was in a math class, but it was only pre-calc, so it didn't really count.)

    [1] My high school had many feminists, as it was rather large, but only one Feminist.

  25. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    sex = gender ???

    Sex and gender are not the same thing.

    Sex represents male/female (physical aspects) while gender represents the masculine/feminine traits.

    State-side, changes in teaching methods have helped girls reach a parity with boys, but with boys doing worse. It would seem that instead of teaching just one method, picking the best of both methods would be preferred. Bringing girls up is one thing, but allowing boys to falter makes no sense, especially when it's tied to the teaching method.

  26. Anonymous Coward
    Paris Hilton

    why do researchers try to simplify everything...

    Surely there are a LOT more factors to mathematical ability than gender equality. In some countries it is simply not fashionable for boys to be clever, and girls just try harder.

    When I were at school, girls scored higher where it was possible to copy verbatim without any real thought, because the boys tried to understand the puzzle and didn't necessarily get the implementation right first time. In later years the boys had learned from their mistakes and coped with the harder problems.

    Other cultural factors play a part too, which result in further subsections of the populace. Then there is probably an element of genetics playing a part too, and evolution from male dominated tasks which involved catching food or protection of the clan requiring the advancement of engineering techniques.

    Paris, because she understands that not everything is a simple as it seems

  27. Sam

    God give me strength

    AC who went to UNI.."litterature" is spelt "literature".

    Francis Davey.."girls and boys were able to do well different things." Me speaky English, you notty...

    Jamie Kitson..."A lot of Muslim countries that the west view as heavily discriminatory against women have, for example, allowed women to go to university far longer than we have."...yes, but they also stone them and occasionally set them on fire, when they are not beating or otherwise abusing them.

    Phil Hare..."I personally get royally pissed off every time I see an advert for a women only car insurer, as they are discriminating against me on the basis of my gender, not on my 7 year without claim proven driving ability."...That's because they have a poorer spatial awareness, and lose control at only 5MPH in tescos car park, so the damage, and therefore the claim, and cost of damage is less.

    HHHMMPHHH!

  28. StopthePropaganda

    Next up: Girls and boys are different!

    protestations by the gender confused aside, scientists release the shocking discovery of biological, structural and psychological differences between the sexes!

    Reactions to the news were mixed, with girls crying about the results and boys getting angry and threatening violence. However, after settling down and doing research for themselves about "outies" and "innies" everyone pretty much settled down and weren't interested in arguing for awhile.

    Viva la differance!

  29. Keith T
    Dead Vulture

    discrimination against men is so ubiquitous it is invisible to us

    So are they going to look at how men are discriminated in with language, literature, and history courses?

    Or do these "economists" feel men are innately inferior?

    The discrimination in our culture against men is so ubiquitous, it is virtually invisible to members of our culture.

  30. Keith T

    sex is not a synonym for gender

    Gender is for grammar and dead things, like the gender of a noun in German, or the gender of an electrical connector.

    Sex is biological.

  31. Brian

    lies, damn lies and statistics...

    See title

  32. Mark
    Paris Hilton

    Women will never be equal cos we're better :-D

    Aren't us men nice to let you do that!

    :-P

    Women may be better, but men are nicer.

  33. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    "women do no work'

    "A value of zero GGI indicates "inequality" (males totally dominating; women do no work"

    So in a totally male chauvinist society, with a GGI of 0, women just sit around on their arses all day, while men do the shopping, the laundry, the cleaning, the child minding and look after their elderly in-laws as well?

    That probably explains why there aren't any countries with a score of 0.

  34. De

    Equal?

    "QED, then. In the northern-Euro countries, where the human race is most nearly approaching gender equality - though not by any means there yet - girls are already outstripping boys at maths, as they often do in non-mathematical subjects. In the gender-equal society of the future, girls really could be expected to trounce the chaps on all suits. Men just aren't as intelligent as women."

    Seems like those for gender equality dont even belive in gender equality........

  35. Anonymous Coward
    Stop

    Re: Women are generally not geeky

    "it is just that girls/females do not have the same detail obsession of boys"

    You've never seen my wife buying shoes

  36. Marco

    Re: Gender separation trumps gender equality

    >>> If you teach girls separately from boys, they perform dramatically better, especially in subjects where "traditionally" boys are expected to be stronger, such as maths and hard sciences. Put girls and boys together and, especially when adolescence hits, girls' performance in those subjects falls off a cliff. The best explanation is the massive cultural and peer pressure

    Or the biological pressure that draws us together no matter what society we live in and was already in place when "school" amounted to being taught not to run in front of a mammoth. Not to mention that from grade 8 and up there are girls who use a display of their "pressuring" femininity for a better grade.

    >>> to be "attractive" to boys, and that starts with not humiliating them in maths tests.

    On the contrary, girls don't wait for a math test to humiliate the boys in their class; they already show those boys for how immature and unequal they consider them when only going out with boys from higher grades.

  37. Schultz

    Missed career

    Looks like Mrs. Sapienza chose the wrong job, should have gone for politics or creative accounting.

    I am also dimayed about the search for gender equality, equal does not translate into happy. Give everybody a chance, but don't expect everybody to strive for the same career.

  38. Ian

    @ Steve

    "Girls tend to do better at pure maths while boys tend to do better at applied maths.

    Which explains why she's having so much trouble with the statistics."

    Err.. statistics is a branch of pure math :p

    I think there's some confusion though, applied math is a bit of a misnomer really, I mean, nearly all math is applied, even things like encryption are just applied number theory essentially.

    I'm not convinced either that girls do better at pure math whilst boys do better at mechanics (which is presumably what you're referring to). Perhaps I'm a man with too much of a girly side but certainly I do superbly when it comes to things such as number theory, set theory, group theory, combinatorics but I really dislike mathematical modelling of real systems (i.e. mechanics etc.).

  39. David Stott

    Studies of studies are always dangerous

    In any statistical study of statisical studies, 5% of the subsidiary studies will lie outside the 95% confidence level. That means that of the more than 100 countries studied here, a number of the countries' figures are going to be just plain flat out wrong. So seizing on a particular country, eg Iceland, to demonstrate something is highly dangerous. The subsidiary results you think are the most interesting could well be those where the numbers are simply not true.

    Also, these sorts of studies are often riddled with the individual economist's own biases, and especially their overwhelming desire (true of most scientists in general) to see their name on published artlcles. On a subject like this one, I'll only be convinced one way or the other once scientists have figured out which bit of the brain is responsible for mathematical proficiency, and then studied an unbiased sample of 100's (at least) of brains to see what those people had in that part of their brain.

  40. Anonymous Coward
    Heart

    I for one

    welcome our new moderatrices.

  41. Martin Usher

    So????

    I know a bunch of girls who are very good at math --- the missus, her sisters and the daughter for a start. I also know a bunch that are clueless. It says nothing.

    The real difference between the genders -- as anyone who's in education will tell you -- is that the width of the ability bell-curve is narrower for girls. The median ability's the same but you get fewer very bright (and very dumb) women than men. The other difference, and the big one for people who work in schools, is that a lot of girls aren't motivated to do 'hard' subjects; the missus has spent practically her entire career encouraging girls to do math and physics and you've got about the same level of interest now as thirty years ago. (She prefers to work in all-girls academic schools so can the discrimination stuff, please. The fact is girls just love law and stuff where their innate articulate skills can be fully deployed -- and they earn far more money than doing boring stuff in a lab.)

  42. Bjorn

    To you, one word only: I love you!!!

    Although I'm sure zapie - something is right. She is an economist after all.

  43. Animal

    Males dominate AND do all the work

    A value of zero GGI indicates "inequality" (males totally dominating; women do no work, earn no money, don't appear at all in politics etc). A GGI of 1 equals "equality" (women just the same as men in these areas).

    ?? What about all those cultures where men "dominate" but women do all the work ??

  44. Shabble

    Innate, my arse

    ‘Innate’ maths ability is essentially the sum of mathematical skills that those untouched tribes people in the Amazon have. They won’t have a concept of zero, probably can’t multiply, and may well not be able to count over a few dozen. The maths ability you and I have (and the ability being measured by this team) is about as far from innate as it is possible to be, and is the product of a decade or more of strict and intensive training.

    So, what this team has actually done is repackage information we already knew, namely that girls are better at boys when it comes to passing Western style maths exams when educated by a Western education system. In non-Western systems, boys are better than girls. There are two possible reasons for this; the first is that girls are better at maths than boys, and that the link between sexism in society and girl’s results proves this. The second is that the two factors are actually a correlation rather than cause and effect, and that societies that have greater equality of the sexes also tend to have the type of school education system that favours girls over boys.

    The trick is distinguishing between the two. Studies of the way boys and girls learn support the latter idea. Boys generally like competitive, fun, hands-on lessons where experimenting and playing are more important than getting grades, whilst girls tend to do better with high-pressured, but less competitive environment where learning is more passive, more highly structured and requires dedication and conscientiousness. However, when we get to university the culture of education flips. Suddenly macho posturing, risk taking and hierarchical rather than co-operative behaviour are desirable, and so boys race ahead of girls.

    This is really a reflection of the society our politicians want. The bulk of learning should be like the bulk of the population it is designed for: passive, obedient and attentive, soaking up lessons and being hand-fed ideas without challenging them. However, the top end of society should be like stereotypically male University maths students: thrusting, competitive, egotistic, arrogant, challenging, and striving to screw over the competition. Following this model, we should expect women to dominate the majority mainstream, with a small number of men dominating the top echelons… which is pretty much where society is headed.

    The real issue is to work out how much of this detail is down to social training and how much is down to evolved behavioural patterns. If girls are better in our current school system because they are predestined to be mature and conscientious, and vice versa for University, then you could say that girls have an innate ability for maths at school, whilst boys have an innate ability for maths at Uni. Then maths ability does depend on society – but depends on the type of culture society deliberately chooses rather than as an unplanned consequence of a traditionally paternalistic society.

  45. DavCrav Silver badge
    Thumb Down

    Strangely...

    it isn't a mathematician saying this. As a mathematician, I am not saying this...

  46. George Johnson
    Alert

    Spelling?

    After reading some of the comments here, looks like we men are lagging behind in spelling too, or at the very least proof-reading!

    What a load of old toss! What about environmental factors too? Quite a few of our young gentlemen in today's society, from certain demographic groups, brainwashed by greedy ad-men to grow up, drink, play GTA and stab and shoot each other, it's hardly surprising we are lagging behind in academia is it? Doesn't take a degree from the University of Bogus-Studies and a grant from the Research Institute of Cods-Wallop to work that out, does it!

  47. Schultz
    Boffin

    Sneeze Plots

    I did get curious enough to look at the study. Looks like they worked hard to obfuscate their correlations of gender equality and math performance - not an easy thing if you only compare two observables. But eventually they get to beautiful sneeze plots showing the correlation between equality and math/reading performance, evenly distributed clots filling the graph. Give or take the odd outlier point and the claimed correlation seems plausible or vanishes in the unhealthy depth of randomness.

    Thumbs up for getting the topic up on the pages of Science and into the general press, but thumbs down for a truly nasty piece of work.

  48. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Lies, damned lies, and statistics

    I am a male with a degree in mathematics and statistics. I suspect Ms Sapienza has a better understanding of statistics than you, Lewis, or any of the predominantly (exclusively?) male posters so far.

    I can't access the original paper, and the summaries do not go into detail on statistical methods, but there are simple (and also not so simple) methods that are appropriate for this data.

    I'll pick out two criticisms from your article, Lewis. Firstly, it's entirely appropriate to leave in data which did not achieve statistical significance for individual countries. Just because the difference between males and females is not statistically significant doesn't mean that the data isn't valid.

    Secondly, you complain about those countries which appear to contradict the conclusion of the paper. You cite Finland and Qatar amongst others. Of course there will be outliers from the data - but the whole point of statistics is to identify the underlying correlation, and these outliers do not negate the conclusion.

    However, the fact that several countries do not fit the general pattern suggests a more justified criticism; that the statistical method may not have adequately examined confounding factors. For example equality of mathematical achievement might be better correlated with wealth than with sexual equality. Taking account of the effect of wealth might eliminate the correlation with sexual equality.

    If you really want to criticise the paper, and there may well be much to criticise, we need to know much more about the statistical methods.

  49. William Morton

    There is sexual bias in the way some subjects learned

    If you look at the science / mathematical subjects with the exception of biology there is indeed a sexual bias and it is in the way the concepts are presented and linked.

    I believe that this is the case as the vast majority of the underlying concepts were recorded by men from their way of thinking.

    Woman do link information together differently and where this can be seen is in the subject of biology. For those people who have studied all the sciences I think they would agree that the mind set for biology is very different to that of the other sciences, this I believe is down to the fact that women have historically been more involved with this subject and hence their way of thinking has been adopted as the norm.

    This would suggest a review of how science is presented to the student so as to better match the way the student's brain works, rather than bickering about whos best we should make the most of what we have. By our history of excluding the female view point we may have made life very difficult for ourselves where the "male" way doesnt work

  50. William Morton

    As an after thought wasn't it Florence Nightingale who first argued successfully with statistics?

    http://www.florence-nightingale.co.uk/small.htm

  51. Anonymous Coward
    Coat

    that's as maybe...

    but they [girls/females/birds/totty*] still cannae tell the difference between left and right.

    .... or understand the offside rule.

    [* delete as appropriate]

  52. Rune Moberg
    Thumb Down

    Wrong focus

    Given the dismal state of affairs in Norwegian schools, it is pointless to look at gender differences. Specially mathematics have taken a turn for the worse for the past twenty years. Whether boys or girls perform better under such conditions is not that interesting, or is it?

    OK, so the girls can add two plus two, and the boys can't, but none of them still do not know any math worth a damn.

    I am open to the idea that girls are smarter. Fine. But... This particulary approach seems like a bad metric at best.

  53. jimmy

    There never will be

    There never will be equality, that term is used by women, it really means to have the parts of male supremacy that they like, they still want all the benefits of being a woman, men are expected to cater to that becasue everyone seems to have accepted that it is more difficult to be a woman and they deserve it. TBH im sick of dealing with it.

    Quote:

    "If you teach girls separately from boys, they perform dramatically better, especially in subjects where "traditionally" boys are expected to be stronger, such as maths and hard sciences."

    As far as education, i believe girls are more personally driven to do well, their mothers certainly enforce how lucky they are to have 'these opportunities' open to them, i know that was the case with my sister. Therefore girls are more driven to do well.

    Boys seem more restless and the only thing i concentrated on in class was how the girl next to me looked, girls are a distraction, i feel that hindered my progress in all subjects not just maths. So this nonsense about girls doing better when they are not placed with boys is making it out like boys are hindering girls ability due to peer pressure. That comment works in reverse, im sure boys do better without girls in class with them....

  54. Jim

    @ Ian

    "Err.. statistics is a branch of pure math :p"

    Err.. no it's not. At least not when I did my A levels all those years ago.

    Back then, pure maths was the study calculus, trigonometry, matrices and other general algebra. My exam board (JMB if you're interested) stipulated that each student be taught a pure maths curriculum plus one elective from mechanics, stats or 'applied' (bit of both).

    And "nearly all math is applied" is tosh too. While all maths can be applied to some degree (it would be pretty useless if it couldn't), 'applied maths' teaches how maths is applied rather than teaching mathematical theorems specifically. A simple example is the triangle, from a purely mathematical perspective it is a 3 sided euclidean shape where the sum of the internal angles is pi rad/180deg, etc. If you are building a bridge however...

    Going back to the study, how can there every be true gender equality (in education, life, whatever) when the whole issue is so highly politicised? The reality is that true equality is impossible because the different sides have different ideas of what equality is. If boys do well then it indicates that the education system is more suited to males and if girls do well then likewise. The worst part is that politicians will endlessly exploit this situation to achieve whatever end they desire.

    And the same goes for racial, or any, equality discussions. The worst part is that politicians will endlessly exploit these situations to achieve whtaever end they desire.

  55. R A Joyce
    Coat

    Sex roles

    I was crap at sports and woodwork at school, and not very good at maths and sciences. I am good at languages (and eventually caught up with maths when I learnt to translate the symbols). As a result I've been out-numbered by women in almost every job I've ever done. I think most blokes in my situation would agree that our female colleagues probably treat us better than many men treat women working in traditionally male jobs.

    As far as education goes, in a perfect world, schools and parents would worry about teaching a child in the way that best suited her or his talents whether or not they were the ones usually associated with his or her sex.

    Mine's the one with "it's a hard job, but someone's got to do it"

    Rod

  56. Austin

    Not to sound sexist..

    Women are highly more successful in American schools OVERALL, but males tend do better math, by a bit , Is the idea of equality, "Women do better at everything, get every advantage, and are generally more intelligent"

  57. David
    Paris Hilton

    Girls are better than boys

    Hey the Math says that girls are better than boys.

    And it is OK culturally to say that girls are better and boys are stupid.

    That is the culture and opinions are skewed by bias and culture. if you don't accept it then you are a troublemaker.

    Even ads say the same thing. Women are wise and men are stupid.

    So it must be true.

    I, a man am now a second class citizen. We men will just eventually end up being sex symbols to women. How degrading. Oh well I might as well shake ass. Cya.

  58. Brian Whittle
    Alert

    me not understandy

    what the hell is math... Oh you crazy Yanks you mean maths.

    you can make anything say anything with statistics ,

    "Sir would you rather pay more Tax or have your eyes ripped out?"

  59. Brian Whittle
    Alien

    down the pan

    Statistics is the reality TV of maths simple as that.

  60. p
    Thumb Down

    Racist comments about Turks

    What the heck does Lewis Page mean with "Turkey - where the men keep their women firmly under the thumb" ?

    Mr Page needs to get his head out of someplace and read the statistics on violence against woman in the West.

    Has he ever been to Turkey, a secular country where there are more female students in Graduate Schools than males ones ? Or does he writing this out of his bud, watching too many anti-Turkish racist Hollywood movies?

    I completed HS in Turkey and all the top students in may classrooms were females. This article is completely racist and has no place in Register.

    Stop prejudice, stop racism..

  61. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Another bitter and twisted feminist speaks.

    On the Gaussian distribution of linguistics, I'll accept that women are better at languages for the most part, because in the cave they had to deceive men out of food and a living, using only their mouth, guile, and their vagina. It therefore follows that they had to be good at lying by ommission and/or ambiguity.

    Similarly, in order to get sex in the post stoneage world, men had to build things that didn't fall down. I drove to Surrey and back this morning, a long way. On the way I traversed hundreds of bridges, and was over flown by devices of such aerial cunning that Newton couldn't have forseen them. There were no women involved in any of this construction, other than perhaps choosing what colour it will be. Similarly, we can count on one hand the number of female inventors who've invented things men wanted, but didn't have. (I exclude things like the bra, if men had wanted women wearing bras I'm sure we'd have invented them.)

    Were I a great linguist, I would no doubt despair at men's inability to put their verbal case forward. I'm not however, I'm merely above average at logical analysis, and I can say from looking around at those I consider exceptional, there's one woman for every dozen men at the higher levels, and at the very top there's simply no women at all, I've been in meetings where it was clear the highest performing women there were so out of their depth they would have been more useful as tea ladies. I'm sure there are women all over who've been in literary meetings where the same is true in reverse.

    I don't deny, or even complain, that the education system has been tinkered with, to stop boys getting too far ahead of girls before they've even started, because for all sorts of reasons poverty is reduced when women work. (I think the government terminology is "It's better women pay for 20% of their keep than none at all.") however, to deny that boys losing out to girls at maths is for anything other than

    a. a politicised education system leading to

    i. Boys being positively held back by the state education mechanism,

    ii. Exams being modfied so girls do well at them,

    then they're either lying or misguided.

    I personally subscribe to a couple of personal beliefs, which is that firstly, as a class women sit closer to the norm, there are more male geniuses and more male morons. The examples I gave above are merely the end points, there's a huge, vast even number of people in the middle for whom sex is irrelevant.

    Secondly, that women are more predisposed to work hard just to be liked by their teacher. I'm sure that if young teachers gave a blowjob to the highest achieving boy, (or just tortured the weakest,) then boys would beat girls hands down.

    Alas, this isn't wanted politically, if girls don't have continual good feedback, they fall on their backs with their legs in the air, and cause a drain on the state. If boys fail, well, then they're fodder for enemy cannons, which is something we need right now.

    This is why we've invented hundreds of new professions, centred around not doing very much other than talking (usually complaining,) we've got to employ all these girls with women's studies degrees somewhere.

    As for equality and equality laws, I'm all for them. Some men complain that equality laws always seem to favour women. Of course they do, it's because women can't compete with men in the most fields, who else are the laws going to support? The strong? Laws by their very nature are designed to protect the weak, but in order to stay elected, the government has to frame them in the context that everyone could benefit from them, even when clearly only one party ever will.

  62. John Edwards
    Paris Hilton

    Everybody knows

    Girls are no good at maths because their brains overheat too easily.

    Paris, whose brain has never overheated, and because she needs more publicity

  63. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    The usual sexism

    i) Presume that male people are bad and oppressors and inferior and that, therefore, female people are good and oppressed and superior.

    ii) Ignore for the time being the fact that in those places where feminism has had most success, the average academic performance of female pupils is higher than that of male pupils in every subject area other than maths, with the obvious consequences in higher education.

    iii) Look at maths only and "correctly" interpret results dependent on the "correct" interpretation of various factors selected to give the "correct" impression of societies, thus "proving" that female people are good and oppressed and superior and that, therefore, male people are bad and oppressors and inferior.

    QED.

    What are these people going to do when their success is complete and female people do better than male people in everything?

    Oh wait, silly question. They'll parade it about as proof that female people are even more superior than previously thought and therefore outperform male people despite male people oppressing them.

  64. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    >if young teachers gave a blowjob

    Of course there was a time, back when boys did better than girls, that most teachers were male and such an activity would be counter-productive.

    It's a shame though that there's no social link between boys doing well at school and getting laid. Although I don't think that would have improved my sex life either.. :(

  65. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    @ Ted Treen

    your grandpops was spot on.

    1 - <quote>results mainly from sexual discrimination</quote>.... how the fuk do they justify that statement? most teachers are women. am i to assume that females teach males better than they teach females? bullsh*t! boys have been on a consistent downward spiral of late and have no descent male role models within education to emulate.

    2 - positive discrimination is still discrimination... women have never missed any of the free lunches available and STILL they demand more.

    3 - there is a valid reason too: men are conditioned to protect their family, women are only conditioned to protect themselves and their children. revoke women's rights - they have abused them for too fuking long.

  66. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Re: if young teachers gave a blowjob

    "I'm sure that if young teachers gave a blowjob to the highest achieving boy"

    A bit of boasting so I'll remain anonymous. I was the highest achieving boy, nay pupil, in the top stream of my school back in the days when we had real exams and if I ever thought for a second that I was going to be so rewarded then I would have made sure to be well down the list. The maths teacher used to be a professional wrestler with Big Daddy and Giant Haystacks amongst his peers. I was never sure why he got back into teaching, I'm sure wrestling was less dangerous.

  67. JC

    Foolishness

    It's well established there is no innateness to performing a task one learns by being studious. The only question is which gender in any given society is pushed more towards academics on average, and how teachers tailor their instruction. That's if we could have all else equal which is never the case, such studies are always prone to the errors and interpretive bias of those designing and analyzing them.

    Boys and girls are both equally capable of a full mastery of math in which there is a 100%:100% competency showing no innate discrepancy.

    Which group is more clever? Probably the ones who do worse at math at a later age - realizing that most of the jobs they'll have will not need the level of math taught, that their studies are more productively spent in other areas.

  68. Anonymous Coward
    Coat

    Re: Ted Treen

    It wasn't giving them the vote that was the problem. THAT started when they got shoes. We never should have given them shoes.

  69. Anonymous Coward
    Joke

    I smell a rat (despite having an inferior, male sense of smell)

    Are we sure that this isn't a variation on the Sokal Hoax? Anyone that can write "an absolute advantage relative to boys" has to have a well-developed sense of humour.

  70. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Different

    Comparing objective data (maths exam results) against subjective data (perceived equality) will always produce whatever the author wants it to. This is an economist _producing_ statistics (Lies, Damn lies etc.) in an emotive field of choice, sexual discrimination. Discrimination is bad, whatever kind of discrimination. And I include this report in that field, it too is discriminatory in that it is supporting, without FACTS, a view that women are poorer at a single area of study because they are being discriminated against.

    Perhaps it is time that she and all 'feminists' understand that men & women are different. They have different abilities & skills, these are meant to complement each other not complete. There will always be those who excel in specific areas, some of these will excel in areas which do not traditionally 'belong' to their own gender/sex/orientation/inclination/floppy bits.

    An AC poster has said that she enjoys having doors held open for her & the man paying for meals etc. Is that not also discrimination? The man being expected to pay for the evenings / outings entertainment? Why not the woman paying? To remove the monetary influence why don't women hold doors open for men? These habits and attitudes have grown over a long time. Some need to be changed, some do not. If women want true and complete equality then they have to start the process as well. So, next time you are out with your male S.O., you pay for the evening, you hold the doors open, you do the things that you so like the men doing. true equality will mean women losing so much.

    Men and women are not equals. In every endeavour you care to mention there will be inequalities, whether they be hand / eye coordination, physical strength, spatial awareness, comprehension & understanding, anything. Women will be better at some things, men at others, this is provable. Wanting women & men to be equal does not mean that it is possible.

  71. Thomas Jerome
    Coat

    A.D.I.D.A.S.

    Boys will always do worse off in GCSEs, because at that point in life, a portion of a young man's imagination suddenly becomes annexed by TEH S3X0R.

    All of a sudden, those Venn diagram questions in a maths paper shure do look like a big ol' pair of tiddies pushed together.

    Mine's the one with a rolled up copy of 'Big Jugs' in one pocket, and 'The Female Eunuch' in the other.

  72. Steve
    Boffin

    @ William Morton

    "For those people who have studied all the sciences I think they would agree that the mind set for biology is very different to that of the other sciences, this I believe is down to the fact that women have historically been more involved with this subject and hence their way of thinking has been adopted as the norm."

    That's because biology is a messy pile of vaguely defined relationships which is ideal for girls to sit around and gossip about.

    Physics has rules that cannot be changed by crying.

    And also lasers.

  73. Anonymous Coward
    Flame

    what men and women are REALLY good at.

    I'll tell you one thing women are much better than men at ... making babies.

    I'll tell you one thing men are (usually) much better than women at .. being unfeeling and objective. (okay Margaret Thatcher was an exception to this)

    yes I am a bloke.

    evolution has created both Men and Women for their strengths.

    It's all the liberal-left-wing-theoretical-claptrap-spouters that can't see this. Why do we fund these idiots ?

    Can't we use the people that create this crap for medical research (especially things that would lead to their demise) ? that would be useful on two counts that I can think of.

  74. Slaine
    Joke

    The first BIG mistake... (if anyone prints it) after Ted Treen et al

    Man, I am reliably informed, began his domestication within the confines of a cave, where he would sit in front of a fire on the bare rock and throw raw meat to wild dogs in an attempt to appease them. Man has always had an innate ability to recognise value in a lesser species. But as time rolled by he found himself in a rather manky cave, full of rotting pieces of meat that even the dogs wouldn't touch. And he looked out of his cave and lo he saw a tree (one must presume therefore that women had not yet made the leap from tree to cave) and saw that it was incredibly tidy, all those lovely branches, adorned with pretty little leaves and blossom.

    So, in the hope of inheriting some of that order and tidiness he invited woman to join him in his house.

    Baaaaaaad move eh? Here we are now thinking that maybe it would be a smart move to get back into that tree and leave the hormonally challenged with the house.

    Woman - remove the "W" and its an anagram of "Moan".

  75. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    I was ace at maths when I was at school...

    ...does that mean I'm gay?

  76. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    @Slaine

    Wo(e) man.

    Says it all.

  77. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Women will never be equal cos we're better :-D

    You have a math degree, right?

    Isn't cos a function, i.e. cosx or cos(x)?

    Your typo is very interesting.

  78. Slaine
    Happy

    multitasking again

    I have a degree in Mathematics. There are many functions, including but not limited to sine, cosine and tangent. Cos, however, is a lettuce.

  79. StillNoCouch
    Joke

    @ Mark Johnson

    Yes.

  80. Colin Millar
    Stop

    Maths, damn maths and statistics

    Showing a poor grasp of statistical analysis doesn't equate to poor maths skills - it does bring into question her training as a researcher.

    And if women are so clever how come they have let themselves be lorded over by a bunch of dumb schmucks for so long?

  81. alyn
    Paris Hilton

    Women still dont understand..

    that buying something in a sale is not saving money it's spending money.

  82. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Schooling

    My sister got an A in GCSA IT, I failed, I left school after my GCSEs after enrolling in Biology, Business studies and Physics, for A-level, realising how poor these courses were, and just set out having a laugh, left home off my own back when I was 18. Now with no qualifications and no mortgage i'm working in top sector IT contracting, i'm 25.

    My sister is still in uni flitting from course to course, my girlfriend has been out of uni for over a year, and still can't hold a bloody job down, especialy one related to her degree (languages btw), she's a year younger than me, has 5 times the debt and earn less than an a third of my wage.

    So.... I may have been beaten in school by many females who showed a brilliant application of memory, but i'm doing pretty well for myself in the real world, where most people realise how little sign of actual ability exam results show.

  83. call me scruffy

    Published...

    How the hell did these "findings" escape into the wild when the stats wouldn't even pass muster in an AS level stats exam?

    Please tell me that the peer review process has torn this to shreds... pretty please?

  84. Slaine
    Boffin

    and finally

    A Mathematician can be a good Economist, but even a brilliant Economist is not necessarily going to understand maths.

    Anything published by someone whose greatest achievement is to be "an economist" should relate only to economics. They, as writers, should avoid at all cost dabbling with heady issues such as "equality of the sexes" as it is this type of misguided thinking that got us in this mess in the first place. They should limit themselves strictly to economics and do not, in any parallel existance, rate sufficiently highly to comment reliably on statistical analysis, especially of figures garnered from such a subjective and random field as the education system. Any half decent Teacher, Scientist and Mathematician will concur.

  85. Mark

    Heck, show me equality between MEN!

    There aint none.

    Men don't rule the world. 0.0001% of men rule the world. A whole 0.0009% more than women.

    Men have crappy jobs and bonking our way to money isn't as accepted for men as for women. And, given that most of that extreme money is in the hands of 0.0001% of men, there's a lot of competition for marrying into that from women for men to have a decent chance of getting hooked.

  86. Anonymous Coward
    Heart

    What is the interesting question?

    As far as I can tell most men are not very good at maths! And this is in my experience also true for most women ..

    So the conclusion is: most men and women that I know are not very good at maths. Now the more interesting question - does this matter? hmmm

  87. Slaine
    Boffin

    I wanted to have the last word

    Mark, I don't dispute what you are implying but can you qualify those figures? Are we talking about 0.0001% of all men, single white men or anything with a p3nis? Do you include priests (who have a p3nis but, presumably don't actually use it for anything that requires blood), do you exclude homosexuals or bleeding heart liberals ?

    If (and I do stress IF) 0.0001% of the human male population of our planet has managed to gain total control (doubtful given the amount of power women now seem to wield), how do you quantify the female 0.0009%?

    Is this 9/10000ths of a percent (9 millionths) of the population (implying that there are 9 times as many women wielding power or that women wield 9 times as much power as men - NOTE these are NOT the same); or is this 0.0009% of the power that is wielded by the remaining 99.9999% of the human male population that you initially defined (implying merely the washing up)?

    Don't fret mate - I'm just messin' with you; after all, with all this women's lib going about it's bloody difficult to get the last word in.

  88. Anonymous Coward
    Flame

    @AC lady girl

    Where's my dinner?

    As for the "debate", IMHO the big problem men have is that certain other men have become so pu$$y whipped that they've allowed certain women to get into positions of power such that they then get to lady it over the rest of us. Shame on you wimps.

    To address @AC lady girl again. IMHO, she is on a desperate slide into an unhappy life. She is of the opinion that the ideal man should generally pamper her, give her an equal say in how the family and household are managed(by equal, of course, I mean that everything she says goes) and generally worship the ground she walks on while she treats him with disdain and rations sex like Fagin did the gruel. She will, no doubt, find herself some doormat of a wimp who'll give the impression that he's her ideal man by flattering her fragile ego. However, no matter what a wimp she's managed to snare, ultimately, men just don't react well to being pushed around by bossy women.

    Cue an extremely unhappy marriage which will end in a divorce which will, yet again, involve her getting everything she wants to the detriment of the poor schmuck. She might think she's got a good deal out of it, but has she really? No, because, had she simply behaved in the way nature originally intended that she did then she would have cleverly deferred to her man enough to keep him happy, while often getting her own way, and he would have felt quite happy too as his male ego(and hopefully other parts too) were gently massaged. He would perform the duties he was best suited to: generally earning more money, managing the household finances and future, DIY, etc., etc. and she would have busied herself making the "cave" more presentable and bringing up the kids. She would have had a happy marriage with her kids growing up in a balanced household instead of a broken one.

    The whole gender war really pi$$e$ me off. Hasn't the destruction of the nuclear family taught these stupid feminists anything? Even Germaine Geer now admits that a lot of the crap the feminists came out with was just that, and destructive crap to boot.

    So, AC lady girl, keep it up. I could care less if your smart alec attitude results in you having a 'mare of a life along with your unfortunate kids and the stupid schmuck who lets you get away with it. Me, i'll sort myself out a woman who knows how to behave like a woman and that means a hell of a lot more than smiling sweetly when doors are opened for you while you try and work out how much I earn based on the restaurant I buy you dinner at(fish 'n' chips twice please;)). She's more than likely not going to be a woman from a 1st world western country anyway because the majority of women from these countries just don't know how to treat their men or their kids for that matter. I'm a bloke and what I say in my own house goes, you've got cleaning to do.

    Oh and don't get me started on what women have done to the BBC. John Humphries you're my hero.

  89. Slaine
    Paris Hilton

    Pounds and Pence, Dollars and Cents

    Interesting sidenote...Since the majority of marriages now end in divorce and the nett result of a divorce is that the female gets the bulk of the valuables and since it costs more to be married than it does to be single, what other way is there to look at a woman's primary chosen role than as "having sex for money", which... come to think of it, probably shouldn't get past the censors.

    Paris doesn't do it for money... dat's a girl ;o)

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