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Math gender gap narrower in countries with equal opportunity

Canada gender gap in Mathematics near average

A new study suggests that the gender gap in math, although historically in favour of boys, disappears in more gender equal societies.The research, published in the journal Science, analyzed data from a 2003 assessment of students in 40 countries by the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development.

Prof. Paola Sapienza of the Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University and colleagues found that while boys tend to do better than girls in math worldwide, that’s not always the case. In Iceland, for instance, she said the girls outperformed the boys. And in about a dozen countries, including Thailand, Indonesia, the United Kingdom, Sweden and the Netherlands, boys and girls were roughly on a par, she said.

“I think the really good news is that the gender gap in mathematics is eliminated in some countries,” she said from Evanston, Ill.

Canada’s gender gap in mathematics, she said, is just a “little bit below” the average, with boys performing slightly better than girls. “In mathematics, it’s really around the average of the countries,” she said. “There’s not a big difference between Canada and the average set of countries.”

Math and science rates for girls in the United States fell in the middle of the pack. As part of the study, the researchers looked at how well integrated women were compared to men in each of the countries. For instance, Sapienza said they looked at economic opportunities given to women, access to health care and political power.

Canada ranked number 12 out of 37 countries on this gender equality index used by the researchers, she said.

-with a report from CP 

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