Study aims to dispel gender myths in education

Boys and girls perform equally at maths, according to a study looking to dispel gender myths in education.

Analysis of over 20,000 students from primary and secondary schools across the UK suggested that differences in maths attainment between girls and boys are almost negligible.

It also indicated that regular and high-quality maths practice improves outcomes across the board and that primary pupils outperformed secondary students with better attainment scores.

The study, carried out by Professor Keith Topping at the University of Dundee and the education assessment company Renaissance has led to calls for a cultural change in schools.

Professor Topping believes his findings challenge many prevailing stereotypes around gender and the study of maths.

He said: “Maths skills are becoming more and more important in an increasingly digital and autonomous world.

“This study shows practically no difference between boys and girls when it comes to attainment.

“Educationalists must challenge the gendering of STEM subjects if we are to ever see more female engineers, scientists, and mathematicians.”

Results were gathered using an assessment which presents students with multiple choice answers on a computer screen, adjusting the difficulty of the questions depending on a student’s performance.

Once students have taken the test, it automatically compares their results to other students their age.

Lauren Shapiro, the special projects team manager at Renaissance said, “There is an enduring myth that girls don’t perform as well as boys in maths. This stereotype can follow them into later life with fewer women taking up careers in STEM subjects or becoming maths teachers.

“This research indicates that does not need to be the case. This should be a wake-up call for all educationalists. We need to push for a cultural change in schools to shake off the male-oriented reputation that certain STEM subjects have among students.”

LifeWeb editor