Girls and boys performing in STEM fields

This is actually already old news (it is from September 2018), but since then it was on my list of things to blog about and only now I found the time to actually do it.

There was a meta-study published in Nature Communications (doi:10.1038/s41467-018-06292-0) about the performance of girls and boys in STEM fields. I learned about it from here.

To summarize a bit the results of the meta-study, let me quote a few sentences from its abstract:

  • According to the ‘variability hypothesis’, this over-representation of males [persuing careers in STEM] is driven by gender differences in variance; greater male variability leads to greater numbers of men who exceed the performance threshold.
  • Their meta study confirms the greater variability (but less average performance) of men: In line with previous studies we find strong evidence for lower variation among girls than boys, and of higher average grades for girls.
  • But the variability hypothesis is disproven: However, the gender differences in both mean and variance of grades are smaller in STEM than non-STEM subjects, suggesting that greater variability is insufficient to explain male over-representation in STEM.