2010 SAT Math Test: Huge Gender Gap Persists With a 34 Point Advantage for High School Boys
The College Board released data today on SAT scores for college-bound seniors in 2010, here are some highlights of the results relating to the 2010 SAT Mathematics test:
1. Continuing a trend that has persisted for many decades, high school boys continued to score significantly higher on the 2010 SAT Math test than their female counterparts, by 34 points this year: the average male score this year was 534 vs. the average female score of 500, see chart above. The male advantage in the SAT Math test has ranged narrowly between 33 and 36 points since 1994, which is slightly lower than the 40+ point advantage for high school boys from 1976 to 1987.
2. The gender differences in SAT Math test scores prevailed for all ethnic groups in 2010, with the following male-female point differences: American Indian (29 points), Asian (28 points), Black (14 points), Mexican-American (35 points), Puerto Rican (30 points) and white (36 points).
3. For perfect scores of 800 points, there were 8,072 males and 3,887 females achieving at the highest possible level, for a male:female ratio of 2.08 to 1. However, there were almost 15% more female high school students (827,197) taking the SAT in 2010 than male students (720,793), and to adjust for these differences in the number of test takers, we can calculate that 1.12% of male test takers scored perfect 800 scores, versus 0.47% of female test takers, for a male:female ratio 2.38:1, which is even higher than the unadjusted male:female ratio of 2.08:1. By either calculation, there were more than twice as many male high school students getting a perfect score on the SAT Math test than female students.
4. In contrast to the male high school students' superior performance on the SAT Math test, female high schools students are generally better students overall, and equally or better prepared for the SAT Math test than their male counterparts:
a. Females outnumbered males in the top 10% of their 2010 classes - there were 127 female students in the top 10% of high schools for every 100 male students (56% female to 44% male).
b. Nationwide, there were 144 female high school students with GPAs of A+ for every 100 males (59% female vs. 41% male).
c. Females had a higher mean GPA of 3.40 than male students at 3.26.
d. More than half (51%) of female high students took more than 4 years of mathematics, compared to 49% of male students.
e. There were 117 female high school seniors who took AP or Honors Math for every 100 male students (54% female vs. 46% male).
Bottom Line: Female high school students are better students on average compared to male high school students, and they are equally or better prepared than males for the math SAT exam based on the number and level of math classes taken in high school. And yet, male students score significantly higher on the SAT math test than females, and the statistically significant male-female test score gap of more than 30 points persists over time.
Based on the statistical evidence, is there any other conclusion than this obvious one: In general and on average, male high school students in the U.S. are just plain better at math than female high school students?
And yet, we hear statements like this: "There just aren't gender differences anymore in math performance," says University of Wisconsin-Madison psychology professor Janet Hyde, "So parents and teachers need to revise their thoughts about this. Stereotypes are very, very resistant to change, but as a scientist I have to challenge them with data."
Given the huge and persistent differences in SAT Math tests that persist over many generations, and are found among all ethnic groups, the scientific data about gender differences in math performance seem to be challenging Professor Hyde's fact-resistant stereotypes.