One of the biggest fallacies about the lack of women who dedicate their lives and skills to STEM aka, science, engineering, technology and mathematics, among others, is the widespread, incorrect assumption that the female brain is simply just “not made for it.” Despite a large number of evidence proving that theory as incorrect in the STEM fields, the idea that women are somehow neurologically less capable than men is still unfortunately a very common one. Now, thanks to a new Australian study that has just absolutely squashed the myth into pieces has made it clear that when it comes to science, math and tech, girls actually come out of high school just as passionate and well-qualified as boys are.
Australian researchers who conducted the new study recently published their discovery in Nature Communications, and the study’s results ended up covering 16 million students worldwide, across 227 different studies that occurred from 1931 to 2013, and discovered that girls are not only not at a “disadvantage” when it comes to their grades in STEM subjects in high school, but that they do better at them than boys.
On average, this study found, girls performed 3.1 percent better in STEM subjects in all the studies, and their results were 7.6 percent less varied, which means that girls scored consistently throughout their testing . in the same cluster of scores, while boys showed a wider range of scores, varying from low to high. The Australian study also showed proof that girls do in fact show excellent aptitude for non-STEM subjects, too. Among the STEM subjects, researchers also found that in STEM subjects, top marks were gender-equal, while in non-STEM subjects like languages, girls dominated, with marks 7.8 percent higher on average when compared to the scores from boys.
So what interested researchers the most about the new discovery? Admittedly, it was the wide spread of grades that interested the scientists most. Researchers who conducted the study were particularly interested in something called the “male variability,” which is a theory about why men are supposedly “better scientists” than women, and why they tend to have more varied test scores in STEM.
“Greater male variability was first written about in the 1800s as an explanation for why the geniuses and fools in society were men. Since then women have had greater access to higher education and girls are now out-performing boys at school on average, but women are still under-represented in maths-intensive fields,” lead study author Rose O’Dea told Physics World.
According to the study, boys have higher grades in non-STEM related subjects, a huge 13.3 percent more than girls to be exact. So, surprisingly, the facts aren’t supporting the idea that boys somehow have more common view of having more knowledge in the field and are predicted to be geniuses in STEM subjects, when in reality, it’s more likely to be the other way around.
The Guardian reported in early 2018 that a global test of reading and mathematics among nearly 3,000,000 secondary school students found that girls at the top of their class showed more aptitude than high-achieving boys, but that the girls suffered from more anxiety around math tests, bringing their scores more in line with the boys. Girls, it seems, absorb the message early that their brains aren’t as “equipped” for maths and science, and so show more worry about their testing.
The idea that women are “biologically” less capable of scientific thinking still shows up in high frequencies throughout various scientific roots, with many world-renowned scientists expressing concern for the science field becoming “sexist” again both genders, varying based on the fields specifically. For now, however, it seems that everyone can agree that both men and women are knowledgable in various aspects of the topic.