Structural Barriers Discourage Girls From Going Into Math and Science? Not According to the Data.
From today's Chronicle of Higher Education, an article by Mary Ann Mason:
"Our economy is increasingly dependent on workers skilled in advanced technology, but at each education level, from K-12 onward, structural barriers discourage women from entering into the challenging, and much higher-paid, fields of science, technology, engineering, and math.
Women are diverted from such fields at each stage of their education. In K-12, girls receive less encouragement than boys in math and science. In high-school programs, they are channeled into certain service professions, like hair styling rather than computer repair. At the undergraduate level, women are clustered in education and health programs, while men dominate engineering and the physical sciences."
MP: Sorry to "screw up a good story by bringing up data and evidence" (see comments section), but according to this 2009 SAT report from the College Board:
1. The average number of years of math study for boys and girls in high school is almost identical: 3.9 years for boys and 3.8 years for girls.
2. The average number of years of science study for girls (3.5 years) in high school is almost the same as for boys (3.6 years).
3. High school girls had exactly the same math GPA as boys of 3.14, and a slightly higher average GPA for science (3.27) than boys (3.23).
4. More girls take biology and chemistry (55%) in high school than boys (45%), i.e. 122 girls per 100 boys.
5. There are 127 girls taking high school AP/Honors science classes for every 100 boys.
6. For high school students reporting more than four years of math study, the percentages are equal by gender: 50% of boys and 50% of girls take more than four years of math.
7. Both 50% of boys and 50% of girls in high school report that calculus is the highest level of high school mathematics taken.
8. More high school girls than boys took AP Honors math courses, by a ratio of 117 girls for every 100 boys.
Bottom Line: The evidence shows that high school girls are equally prepared, if not more prepared (more AP math and science classes), than high school boys for college programs in math, science and engineering.
If "structural barriers" are in place to deter and divert girls away from math and science in K-12, why are girls taking as many or more math and science classes in high school as boys and getting the same GPAs, and why are girls taking more AP Math and Science Honors courses than boys? You could make a stronger case that boys are being diverted away from math and science since they are significantly outnumbered by girls in AP Honors math and science courses, and high school biology and chemistry classes.