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Gender Gap Trends on Mathematics Exams Position Girls and Young Women for STEM Careers

Abstract

"Nine years of results on 4.2 million of Indiana's Indiana Statewide Testing for Educational Progress (ISTEP)mathematics (math) exams (grades 3-10) taken after the implementation of No Child Left Behind have been used todetermine gender gaps and their associated trends. Sociocultural factors were investigated by comparing math gendergaps and gap trends for (a) state public schools, (b) state nonpublic schools, (c) a low-performing metropolitan school,and (d) a high-performing suburban school. To control for changing sociocultural factors, multiregression analyses wereconducted to predict grade-level (3-10) gender gaps and math scale scores using socioeconomic and ethnicity variables.The underrepresentation of females in earning advanced STEM degrees was investigated by determining the gender ofthe highest performer on the ISTEP math exams in grades 3-10 for each of states 292 school corporations. Boyspercentages were higher across all grades by about a 2:1 ratio, similar to high-end results on Scholastic Aptitude Test(SAT) math exams. Simulations of distributions for d = .27 and variance ratio = 1.13 fitted 2013 college-bound SAT mathempirical data. Results of the analyses of the states ISTEP math exam data and the 2013 SAT math scores of college-bound seniors support the arguments that girls and young women possess the abilities to pursue STEM careersthat require advanced mathematical skills."

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