Washington, July 25 : When it comes to math, girls are just as good as boys, says a new research.
Whether they looked at average performance, the scores of the most gifted children or students' ability to solve complex math problems, girls measured up to boys, say the researchers.
"There just aren't gender differences anymore in math performance," says University of Wisconsin-Madison psychology professor Janet Hyde, the study's leader.
"So parents and teachers need to revise their thoughts about this," adds Hyde.
The UW-Madison and University of California, Berkeley, researchers report their findings in the July 25 issue of Science.
Though girls take just as many advanced high school math courses today as boys, and women earn 48 percent of all mathematics bachelor's degrees, the stereotype persists that girls struggle with math, says Hyde.
Not only do many parents and teachers believe this, but scholars also use it to explain the dearth of female mathematicians, engineers and physicists at the highest levels, added Hyde.
To reach the conclusion, the research team acquired math scores from state exams now mandated annually under No Child Left Behind (NCLB), along with detailed statistics on test takers, including gender, grade level and ethnicity, in 10 states.
Using data from more than 7 million students, they then calculated the "effect size," a statistic that reports the degree of difference between girls' and boys' average math scores in standardized units.
The effect sizes they found - ranging from 0.01 and 0.06 - were basically zero, indicating that average scores of girls and boys were the same.