Monday, September 13, 2010

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. 


At 9/13/2010 4:37 PM, Blogger NC said...

Gender sameness crowd livid.

At 9/13/2010 4:37 PM, Blogger NC said...

Gender sameness crowd livid.

At 9/13/2010 7:18 PM, Blogger chalcala said...

It would be hard to argue against the data, but a few questions did come to mind. Are males, generally and on average, better at math or just better test takers? Do other standardized tests show the same results? Or is it just on the SAT? It is an interesting study.

At 9/13/2010 9:12 PM, Blogger morganovich said...

if you keep speaking this way, you're going to lose any shot at becoming president of harvard...

At 9/13/2010 10:10 PM, Blogger bix1951 said...

really, you are stepping on toes and violating taboos of modern civilized discourse

At 9/14/2010 7:50 AM, Blogger NC said...

Screaming heard and things broken in the Harvard faculty lounge. Paul Krugman still bound and gagged in the Princeton faculty lounge.

At 9/14/2010 8:25 AM, Blogger Rand said...

Nobody ever seems to point out how much higher females score than males on the verbal portion of the SAT.

At 9/20/2010 4:45 AM, Blogger Vivek Gupta said...

This of course leads to the unpleasant question: Is the male gender at an inherent disadvantage in fields where literacy skills dominate?

If the math gap cannot be bridged, the reading and writing gap will prove equally stubborn and that may not be a good bargain for our boys.

At 9/30/2010 10:03 PM, OpenID johnthetoad said...

This is a great post!

I think it's amazing how much feminist-socialist "equality" drivel can drown out the cold, hard facts of reality: most likely women simply are, genetically and physiologically, worse at math than men.

I think you should do another post debunking another long-denied and rebuked, yet solidly supported fact: the unmovable 100-point SAT gap between blacks and whites. It's even larger than the male-female gap, and denied with even more pathetic irrationality by the race sameness crowd.

At 3/12/2011 12:10 PM, Blogger David said...

"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?"

Well...yes, yes there is. Quite a few of them, in fact.

It could be the case, for instance, that all the data actually shows is that on average, male high school students in the U.S. perform better than females on the SAT Math section. It could be the case that the gender gap in performance results from stereotype thread (c.f. Spencer & Steele, Stereotype Threat and Women’s Math Performance) and is not related to ability level at all. It could be the case that different genders prefer different (but equally valid) problem solving strategies, and the test facilitates some of these more than others. It could be the case that the SAT Math is a restricted and shallow metric for general math ability in the first place.

Since the data you've presented do not control for these possibilities, their effects (if they exist) remain unknown, leaving plenty of different hypotheses that could account for the SAT performance gap. The conclusion that males have an inherent advantage in general math ability is not justified.


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