Science Gender Gap Data by Country

There’s a great interactive feature up at the New York Times displaying the science gender gap, as measured by a science exam given to 15-year-olds, and how that varies across several global regions and 60+ developed countries. The US is one of the countries where boys do the best comparatively, but it’s interesting to see the many countries and regions where girls actually come out ahead. And the global average actually sees girls outperforming boys on this specific science test! But aptitude at a young age doesn’t necessarily translate to closing the gender gap at higher career levels if there is a strong cultural prejudice, and of course the country-by-country variation implies that culture is an important component here.

Researchers say these cultural forces are strong in the United States, Britain and Canada but far less pervasive in Russia, Asia and the Middle East, which have a much higher proportion of women in science and engineering. In Jordan, for example, girls score more than 8 percent better in science than boys do.

“For girls in some Arab countries, education is the only way to move up the social structure,” Mr. Schleicher said. “It is one way to earn social mobility.”

4 thoughts on “Science Gender Gap Data by Country

  1. Joseph Reagle

    Some have posited that women are more common in computing fields in regions where computing is seen as an advantageous profession rather than identity/passion.

    1. jessamyn

      Well and, even within the US, women were quite common in computing until it became high-status.

  2. Doctor Jay

    I’m currently reading Cordelia Fine’s excellent book, “Delusions of Gender”. She calls out the same phenomenon – that gendered differences in math and CS are a feature of the First World. The CS department of the University of Armenia, she reports is 75% women.

  3. Sasori

    hmm… I remember reading something similar from Commenter Tamen in Clarisse thorn’s masculinity threads that I read a few month’s ago.
    The article he quotes is talking about why girls and boys in underdeveloped African countries don’t have such a large disparity in academic interests. I think it is somewhat applicable to the OP article.
    http://eng.kifinfo.no/c62967/nyhet/vis.html?tid=62538
    a quote

    “There is little difference in how Ghanaian girls and boys view science education and technology. In Norway, Sweden, Finland and England, on the other hand, the gender gap regarding what the pupils are interested in is huge.”. And it also suggests “…that the gap between girls’ and boys’ fields of interest increase the wealthier a country is”…“The pupils in Uganda and Ghana show great interest in science studies and technology. One possible explanation may be that youth in these countries see knowledge as the road to a better life,” says Jensen. When it comes to the gender differences he points to the fact that youth in Western countries to a larger degree can choose their own identity. Gender seems to be an important factor in this process.”

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