Friday, July 25, 2008

New study shows girls measure up to boys in every grade and more enroll in advanced classes

Sixteen years after Barbie dolls declared, "Math class is tough!" girls are proving that when it comes to math they are just as tough as boys.

In the largest study of its kind, girls measured up to boys in every grade, from second through 11th. The research was released Thursday in the journal Science. Parents and teachers persist in thinking boys are simply better at math, said Janet Hyde, the University of Wisconsin-Madison researcher who led the study. And girls who grow up believing it wind up avoiding harder math classes.

"It keeps girls and women out of a lot of careers, particularly high-prestige, lucrative careers in science and technology," Hyde said.

"I've always said I want to be a scientist or maybe an accountant someday," 10-year-old Cara Geiger told CBS News correspondent Kelly Wallace.

While nearly as many women as men have undergraduate college degrees in math, women are still far behind in areas like physics and engineering, reports Wallace. But in primary and secondary school, girls have caught up, with researchers attributing that advance to increasing numbers of girls taking advanced math classes such as calculus.

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