Monday, February 20, 2012

What Do AP Subject Exams Tell Us About Differences in Academic Interest By Gender?

  AP Subject Exam, 2011    % Female   % Male 
Studio Art: Drawing7426
Studio Art: Design7228
French Language6931
Art History6634
English Literature6337
Psychology6337
Spanish Language 6337
Spanish Literature6337
English Language6238
Biology5941
Chinese Language5842
French Literature5842
Environmental Science5644
Japanese5644
World History5545
Human Geography5446
U.S. History5446
European History5347
U.S. Government5347
Statistics 5248
Latin5050
Calculus AB4951
Italian4951
Comparative Government 4852
Chemistry4753
German4753
Macroeconomics4654
Microeconomics4456
Music Theory4258
Calculus BC4159
Physics B3565
Physics C22674
Physics C12377
Computer Science A2080
Computer Science AB1486

The table above shows the gender breakdown for 35 Advanced Placement subject exams taken by high school students in 2011, based on data just released in the subject supplement as part of the 8th Annual "AP Report to the Nation."  Here are some observations:

1. Of the 35 AP subjects, female high students were over-represented in 20 subjects, male students were over-represented in 14 subjects and one subject (Latin) was perfectly balanced by gender. 

2. In the science area, female students showed a greater interest in biology (59%) and environmental science (56%) than males, and males showed a greater interest in chemistry (47%) and physics (65%).

3. For mathematics subjects, female high school students were slightly over-represented in statistics (52%) and males were slightly over-represented in calculus (51%).  For advanced calculus, male students were over-represented at 59%.  

4. For all languages except German, more female students took language AP exams than males, and for French, female students outnumbered male students by more than 2-to-1.

5. Male high school students were significantly over-represented in all three physics exams, and both computer science exams. 

Bottom Line: Assuming that high school students take AP classes and exams based on their interests and aptitudes in certain subjects, there do appear to be many gender-based differences in academic interests.  Even within STEM fields there appear to be gender differences, with female high school students showing a greater interest than males in biology and environmental science and males showing a greater interest in chemistry and physics.  Female students show an interest in statistics and calculus, but less of an interest in advanced math (calculus) and very little interest in computer science compared to their male classmates.   

Here's a prediction: If these AP test results generate any controversy or concerns, it will only be a very selective concern about female under-representation in physics and computer science, but no concern about male under-representation in art, language, history, biology, environmental science and psychology.

Further, assuming that the AP test data reflect some natural gender differences in academic interest, that could then explain this recent prediction from Science, as reported by the Chronicle of Higher Education:

"It could take nearly 100 years before half of all professors in science and engineering are female, according to an article out on Friday in the journal Science. The assertion is shocking because people in academe have been working for decades to increase the number of women in those fields."

MP: Maybe it's not so shocking if the AP subject test data are reflecting natural differences in "revealed gender preferences" of academic interest.  When there are almost 350 high school boys taking the advanced physics AP exam for every 100 high school girls, and more than 600 boys taking the advanced computer science AP exam for every 100 girls, it's understandable that it might take 100 years for perfect gender parity for STEM professors.  And based on the "revealed academic preferences" of female high school students who are voluntarily choosing different subjects than boys for AP classes and AP exams, maybe that's demonstrating that women can live perfectly successful and rewarding lives without ever achieving perfect gender parity in STEM fields.

38 Comments:

At 2/20/2012 12:20 PM, Blogger cruiser said...

I suspect the environmental science designation is what used to be called environmental studies and is really a feel-good socio-political subject area rather than a STEM area like ecology, forestry, etc.

 
At 2/20/2012 2:10 PM, Blogger morganovich said...

i suspect that if you adjusted these figure for the % of females planning to go to college vs the number of males, the female skew would be even higher.

girls are more likely to graduate from highschool than boys and more likely to go to college.

thus, the sample set has more women than men and even a 50/50 interest split would show up as 55/45 women in terms of participation.

 
At 2/20/2012 3:00 PM, Blogger AIG said...

Morganovich, I don't think there would be any difference between male and female graduation rates for kids taking AP exams, or their college-bound rates (they are all probably close to 100%) You don't take AP classes and exams unless you are already in the top %s of your HS class.

 
At 2/20/2012 6:31 PM, Blogger EconJive said...

Surprise to me that psychology and art were so skewed towards females.

 
At 2/20/2012 8:14 PM, Blogger Marko said...

In looking through this list, it seems to me that men tend to be more interested in fields that are more directly related to a career. People in the fields favored by women (as indicated in this chart) tend to end up in careers not directly related to their degree. Art history is a great example - most art history majors don't end up working as art historians, but I believe a much higher percentage of chemistry majors become chemists.

 
At 2/20/2012 8:54 PM, Blogger kmg said...

Being highly selective about female underrepresentation in certain subjects does not even make the top 10 list of things feminists have done that can be classified as evil.

Prof. Perry, how can the US economy do well if 10-30% of men in their prime earning years are under a 70% tax rate, that too due to no fault of their own?

In 'The Misandry Bubble', scroll down to the part about the Mancession/Sheconomy.

10-30% of American men are under a 70% tax rate, since alimony and custody are awarded to the mother on a 'no fault' basis.

 
At 2/20/2012 8:56 PM, Blogger kmg said...

In looking through this list, it seems to me that men tend to be more interested in fields that are more directly related to a career.

Surprise, surprise, since a man's attractiveness to the opposite sex can hinge greatly on his career success, while for a woman, this is not true.

An unemployed/poor man vs. an employed one have very different dating prospects...

....but the hot 23 year old waitress gets a lot more male attention than the 45 year old female executive. No amount of laws or feminist screaming is going to change that.

 
At 2/20/2012 9:51 PM, Blogger AIG said...

Unfortunately too many of these debates turn into male vs female issues and into complaints of how "men are discriminated against". I don't subscribe to these theories; for the same reason that women are often predisposed to pursue certain educational or career goals, be it to biological, social, cultural, historical etc reasons; so men are predisposed to certain family responsibilities which fall on their shoulders; ie a woman cannot escape her duties as a mother as easily as a man can escape his duties as a father. It's a matter of biology, and therefore the law must act differently.

 
At 2/20/2012 10:16 PM, Blogger AIG said...

That being said, there is also the matter of absolute numbers, besides these percentages.

I'd venture to say that subjects such as Calculus, chemistry, physics, biology, economics, history, and literature...are the most heavily attended AP classes in US HS. So while men may be proportionally greater in Calc AB and BC, there certainly will be a lot more women in these AP classes than there will be in Art History AP classes. After all, most HS in the US offer the core AP courses in math and science and history/literature...but very few offer the other AP courses which appear at the top half of the list.

This doesn't diminish the impact of the numbers presented here, but one should be careful to jump to sweeping conclusions.

Nevertheless, I maintain that the female vs male proportions we see here ARE for the most part the result of American cultural traits. Such differentiation is NOT observed in a lot of other countries where...dare I say..."popularity" in HS depends on your grades rather than on the sports team you're on.

So in conclusion, the "feminists" or whatever one wants to call them, do have somewhat of a point when saying that there are underlying cultural patterns that disadvantage women in education. But clearly, these are not problems that can be solved by any government action; they are actions of individual parents who chose to raise their daughters as pretty little princesses, instead of "cut-throat b***es", as Dr. House would say. And on the flip side, the American cultural obsession with "manliness", which then leads to these sort of pointless verbal and ideological conflicts (I mean, you have a 400lb slob like Rush Limbaugh talk about "manhood" as if its something that he possesses)

I don't want to generalize all this as an "American culture", but it is a trait of a sizable portion of the population. But for competitiveness' sake, its time to focus on the fundamentals that matter; knowledge.

 
At 2/20/2012 11:19 PM, Blogger kmg said...

It's a matter of biology, and therefore the law must act differently.

Completely bogus. 41% of babies in America are born to single mothers, solely due to the government subsidizing these women, and buying their votes.

Denying a child a father is a form of child abuse, and many women conduct exactly this abuse onto their own children.

 
At 2/21/2012 10:05 AM, Blogger morganovich said...

aig-

you are missing my point.

more girls graduate overall than boys. more girls go to college than boys, thus the pool of girls taking the AP test is bigger than the pool of boys.

so, if the starting group is 55% girls and 45% boys (which is roughly accurate), then a 55/45 split taking a test would be even levels of interest, not interest favoring girls.

 
At 2/21/2012 11:01 AM, Blogger AIG said...

"Completely bogus. 41% of babies in America are born to single mothers, solely due to the government subsidizing these women, and buying their votes. "

Yes sure its all the government's fault that so many men in this culture have absolutely no personal responsibilities. Blame everyone else.

Of course births outside of a family setting are a problem. But they are primarily and firstly, a personal problem. The same culture that tells women at a young age that their goal in life is to plop out babies and that the only way they will get ahead in life is by looking like pretty little princesses, and the same culture that tells men at an early age that they have to show their manhood by playing football all day long, because being a NERD is so totally uncool...is also the same culture that will lead to such family outcomes.

How many of those 41% of births are to couples with at least an undergraduate degree?

"Denying a child a father is a form of child abuse, and many women conduct exactly this abuse onto their own children."

The biological attachment of a woman and a man to their child is quite different, unless you're a sea horse.

 
At 2/21/2012 11:03 AM, Blogger AIG said...

"more girls graduate overall than boys. more girls go to college than boys, thus the pool of girls taking the AP test is bigger than the pool of boys."

Those statistics may not hold true to kids going into AP classes.

 
At 2/21/2012 12:09 PM, Blogger Marko said...

AIG: "there are underlying cultural patterns that disadvantage women in education."

I would agree if you rephrase to "there are underlying cultural patterns that affect the choices women make in education."

 
At 2/21/2012 12:12 PM, Blogger Marko said...

AIG, you seem to be arguing that government policy doesn't influence the culture. Are you sure that is where you want to stand?

Earlier you said you thought U.S. Culture disadvantages women, but then you point out that having babies outside of marriage is a personal choice. Again, you may want to rethink this.

 
At 2/21/2012 12:42 PM, Blogger kmg said...

Yes sure its all the government's fault that so many men in this culture have absolutely no personal responsibilities. Blame everyone else.

What a fool you are. It is WOMEN who act selfishly, not men.

I consistently see men putting their children ahead of themselves, while women put the well-being of the child at a low priority.

Denying a child a father is a form of abuse, and many women do this to their own children all the time.

You are a misandrist, plain and simple.

The biological attachment of a woman and a man to their child is quite different

To actually claim that men should not have any rights to their own children is sickening. You are a misandrist and a bigot..

 
At 2/21/2012 1:51 PM, Blogger misterjosh said...

AIG, I recommend checking out Walter Williams for the perverse incentives that government offers people to have children out of marriage.

Back on topic, I don't care if girls & boys have different interests, but it bothers me that there's such a hue and cry about women being underrepresented in STEM fields, but no fuss about men being underrepresented in language fields and college in general.

 
At 2/21/2012 2:28 PM, Blogger Ron H. said...

AIG: "The same culture that tells women at a young age that their goal in life is to plop out babies and that the only way they will get ahead in life is by looking like pretty little princesses, and the same culture that tells men at an early age that they have to show their manhood by playing football all day long, because being a NERD is so totally uncool...is also the same culture that will lead to such family outcomes. "

But, has this culture changed in recent years? I believe you will find a correlation, (I know, not causation), between the rise in the number of births to single mothers, and the explosive growth of the welfare state beginning in the 1960s.

 
At 2/21/2012 2:35 PM, Blogger Ron H. said...

"What a fool you are. It is WOMEN who act selfishly, not men.

blah blah blah...
"

Another avalanche of trollish blather from kmg.

 
At 2/21/2012 3:26 PM, Blogger AIG said...

"I would agree if you rephrase to "there are underlying cultural patterns that affect the choices women make in education."

That is what I mean, of course.

"AIG, you seem to be arguing that government policy doesn't influence the culture"

I am not arguing that at all. I didn't speak of government policies in regards to culture here, but rather that there is a cultural trend at play. It seems often time in these debates (especially when conservatives are concerned), the fact that the differences one observes in the US between women and men are not just due to biological factors, but also cultural "man-made" factors, is often ignored.

"Earlier you said you thought U.S. Culture disadvantages women, but then you point out that having babies outside of marriage is a personal choice."

Well the two don't contradict each other. Personal choices are shaped by the culture one grows up and lives in. I didn't say "US culture disadvantages women". I said that there are cultural trends in the US that channel women towards particular paths in life.

"It is WOMEN who act selfishly, not men."

Ok kmg, I can see that this isn't going to go anywhere constructive.

 
At 2/21/2012 3:33 PM, Blogger AIG said...

"AIG, I recommend checking out Walter Williams for the perverse incentives that government offers people to have children out of marriage. "

I've read and heard Williams and others make those arguments. I agree with them. I'm just not sure why we're talking about this. KMG brought it up for some reason as a "injustice" done to men that they have to pay for the children they abandon. It obviously isn't.

But, to say that this is entirely due to the government, isn't supported either. Personal responsibility steps in at some point, and in that regard, the culture in which they grew up in plays its own role.

 
At 2/21/2012 7:13 PM, Blogger kmg said...

Another avalanche of trollish blather from kmg.

Translation : Ron H is troubled by facts and cannot debate rationally.

Ron H, you are part of the 'third gender' forming in the West. You are not a man, but rather the modern equivalent of a Chinese court eunuch.

 
At 2/21/2012 7:15 PM, Blogger kmg said...

AIG,

done to men that they have to pay for the children they abandon. It obviously isn't.

THEY don't abandon the child, you moron. The woman TAKES the children away from the father for her own selfish reasons. The mother is given unilateral custody of children even if SHE is the wrongdoer.

You are someone who is OK with women harming children, which is immoral and disturbing.

 
At 2/21/2012 7:22 PM, Blogger kmg said...

misterjosh,

Back on topic, I don't care if girls & boys have different interests, but it bothers me that there's such a hue and cry about women being underrepresented in STEM fields, but no fuss about men being underrepresented in language fields and college in general.

Yes. Feminists have no problem with this hypocritical selectivity.

And 'men' like AIG and RonH obediently go along with it, and even excuse women who harm children.

 
At 2/21/2012 8:05 PM, Blogger Nils said...

"Such differentiation is NOT observed in a lot of other countries where...dare I say..."popularity" in HS depends on your grades rather than on the sports team you're on. "

I have to ask, which countries would that be?

 
At 2/21/2012 10:06 PM, Blogger AIG said...

"I have to ask, which countries would that be?"

Most Asian countries, most Eastern European countries etc.

 
At 2/22/2012 1:44 AM, OpenID Sprewell said...

I don't know about Eastern Europe but those who have made those claims about Asia to me in the past ended up being contradicted by the data I found. Basically, Asian women enter STEM fields more than US women, but it was still heavily dominated by Asian men. So the role of cultural differences appear to be minor if we're using those other cultures as a comparison, but those cultures are often even more patriarchal generally than the US, so that's another confounding factor. As Baumeister said on his Econtalk, it's a complex interplay of culture and genetic predisposition, so it's tough to pin down how much certain cultures are tipping the scales versus other cultures.

 
At 2/22/2012 2:33 AM, Blogger Ron H. said...

kmg: "Translation : Ron H is troubled by facts and cannot debate rationally."

Au contraire. I am fond of facts, but I'm troubled by the total absence of them in your comments. There's nothing to debate, obviously.

"Ron H, you are part of the 'third gender' forming in the West. You are not a man, but rather the modern equivalent of a Chinese court eunuch."

LOL! Such juvenile nonsense. How old are you? Thirteen, fourteen? Get a life, and quit wasting people's time with this drivel.

If you have something to contribute, let's see it, otherwise it's easy enough to ignore your comments.

 
At 2/22/2012 4:45 PM, Blogger AIG said...

Sprewell, yes there are many variables to take into account. Many Asian societies are very patriarchal, but there are different dynamics at play there.

For example, in Taiwan while there are still more males in math and science and engineering, the dynamics are very different from the US. For example, the single largest number of males in universities is in Engineering (very much not so in the US), to the tune of close to 40% of males. For females, the largest majority go into business and health care; combined 40%.

Of course, they also have more males overall in universities.

The point I was trying to make, is that the same patterns do not repeat in other countries. While women are still likely to be more represented in social fields, those fields are also likely to be very small.

In the US, those fields tend to make up the majority of the student bodies.

 
At 2/22/2012 6:32 PM, Blogger kmg said...

I see that Ron H has no repent about his willingness to hold men to a vastly higher standard of accountability than he holds women.

Such a person is sickening, and such behavior is the root of many problems in society today (including laws that harm children, for reasons explained above).

 
At 2/22/2012 6:40 PM, Blogger kmg said...

Wait, so I provide facts supported by links, and in response, Ron the Mangina merely writes 'blah blah blah', and then still is delusional enough to think he is anything other than stumped?

What is pathetic is that he is eager to enable actions that harm children, just so that he can grovel to feminists (an action that women find repulsive, btw).

What a loser..... heh heh

 
At 2/22/2012 10:38 PM, Blogger Ron H. said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

 
At 2/22/2012 10:45 PM, Blogger Ron H. said...

"I see that Ron H has no repent about his willingness to hold men to a vastly higher standard of accountability than he holds women.

Such a person is sickening, and such behavior is the root of many problems in society today (including laws that harm children, for reasons explained above).

Wait, so I provide facts supported by links, and in response, Ron the Mangina merely writes 'blah blah blah', and then still is delusional enough to think he is anything other than stumped?

What is pathetic is that he is eager to enable actions that harm children, just so that he can grovel to feminists (an action that women find repulsive, btw).

What a loser..... heh heh
"

*Yawn*

Nothing here.

Speaking of children, it appears a grade school boy has apparently gained access to Mommy's computer. She will paddle your skinny little boy butt when she finds out, sonny.

What did mommy do to you to cause such gender confusion?

Moving on to comments with actual content.

2/22/2012 10:38 PM

 
At 2/23/2012 2:17 PM, Blogger morganovich said...

kmg-

"Translation : Ron H is troubled by facts and cannot debate rationally."

nope, he had it right. you are just posting unsupported blather and using vitriol to hide the fact that you lack and support for most of what you are saying, which seems to be par for the course for you.

 
At 2/23/2012 2:19 PM, Blogger morganovich said...

aig-

"Those statistics may not hold true to kids going into AP classes."

i think it actually is more pronounced.

girls tend to have higher GPA's than boys and much of that is from AP classes.

further, taking the class is not nesc the issue, it's taking the test. you only do that if you plan to go to college.

more girls apply and go to college.

 
At 2/25/2012 1:56 AM, Blogger kmg said...

morganovich squealed :

nope, he had it right. you are just posting unsupported blather and using vitriol to hide the fact that you lack and support for most of what you are saying,

No, I provided liked stats, in the article 'The Misandry Bubble'. The fact that you ignored them shows your intellectual emptiness and shame at being refuted by actual facts.

What a coward. That you can lie outright shows that you cannot make a proper argument, and are morally empty.

 
At 2/25/2012 2:02 AM, Blogger kmg said...

RonH,

I provided an article that has many statistics that back up my statements, and Prof. Perry's. You, in turn, provide zero except displays of your eunuchness.

Your cowardice is so extreme that you actually try to ignore this, exposing how pathetic you are. And you know it.

Beating up you manginas is so easy that it is not even sport. That you are OK with harming children in order to grovel to women, is sickening, and is why most of society ranks you at the bottom.

Ron H = Chinese court eunuch of the 21st century.

Heh heh.

 
At 2/25/2012 3:45 PM, Blogger misterjosh said...

KMG, you are every bit as annoying as any feminist I've ever encountered. With your childish antics, you have surrendered any moral authority you might have possessed in this discussion.

 

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