We’ve all heard it before: boys are simply better at math than girls are. But according to a new study published in Science, the math gender gap has vanished. Previous studies showed that boys start to outscore girls in math once they reach high school. Information gathered last year from the math tests of 7.2 million kids in Grades 2 to 11 in 10 states, however, revealed that there are no longer any significant differences between boys’ and girls’ average scores. Similarly, an equal number of both sexes were found to perform so well that they ranked among the highest mathematical achievers. Scientists say the results show that more girls are taking math courses and, most important, sticking with them as they get older.
But then we started thinking, maybe it does have something to do with sex and relationships. It certainly has something to do with gender roles, and those definitely affect sex and relationships. While differences between “Mars” and “Venus” should be studied, celebrated and respected, we always enjoy research that puts men and women on a more even playing field, research that contradicts traditional expectations of the way males and females are “supposed” to be. A year or so ago the media got moist over some evo psych research that tried to explain girls’ preference for pink; we loved the article which called it all a bunch of caca:
The Sunday Sentinel in 1914 told American mothers: “If you like the colour note on the little one’s garments, use pink for the boy and blue for the girl, if you are a follower of convention.” Some sources suggest it wasn’t until the 1940s that the modern gender associations of girly pink became universally accepted. Pink is, therefore, perhaps not biologically girly. Boys who were raised in pink frilly dresses went down mines and fought in the second world war. Clothing conventions change over time.
Everybody should feel free to develop their own tastes and preferences, likes and dislikes, skills and abilities, regardless of the expectations of their gender — whether it has to do with middle school math or how you eventually want to behave in an adult relationship: in other words, boys can make beautiful art projects, girls can win prizes at science fairs, men can cry, and women can be dominant in the bedroom. Despite the fact that the opposite sex can often seem like a creature from another planet (and despite our society taking endless delight in alien stories), we men and women would do well to remember we have more things in common than we don’t.