Girls equal boys in Mathematics skills

July 28, 2008: 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.

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.

That's changing, though slowly. Women are now earning 48% of undergraduate college degrees in math; they still lag far behind in physics and engineering. 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.

Hyde and her colleagues looked at annual math tests required by the No Child Left Behind education law in 2002. Ten states provided enough statistical information to review test scores by gender, allowing researchers to compare the performances of more than 7 million children. The research was released Thursday in the journal Science.

The researchers found no difference in the scores of boys versus girls - not even in high school. Studies 20 years ago showed girls and boys did equally well on math in elementary school, but girls fell behind in high school.

"Girls have now achieved gender parity in performance on standardized math tests," Hyde said.

The stereotype that boys are better at math has been fuelled, at least in part, by suggestions of biological differences in the way little boys and little girls learn. This idea is hotly disputed; Lawrence Summers, then the president of Harvard, was castigated in 2005 when he questioned the "intrinsic aptitude" of women for top-level math and science.

Joy Lee, a rising senior at Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and Technology in Alexandria, Virginia, says she always felt confident about math, but remembers how it felt to walk into a science class full of boys. "Maybe I was a little bit apprehensive about being the only girl, but that didn't last for very long," said Lee, president of a school club that tries to get young girls interested in science and technology, along with engineering and math.

Still, while there are fewer women in science and technology, there are more women in college overall. To Hyde and her colleagues, that helps explain why girls consistently score lower on average on the SAT: More of them take the test, which is needed to get into college. The highest-performing students of both genders take the test, but more girls lower on the achievement scale take it, skewing the average. For the class of 2007, the latest figures available, boys scored an average of 533 on the math section of the SAT, compared with 499 for girls. On the ACT, another test on which girls lag slightly, the gender gap disappeared in Colorado and Illinois once state officials required all students to take the test.

Back in 1992, Barbie stopped saying math was hard after Mattel received complaints. So far, while her current career choices include baby doctor and veterinarian - and Dallas Cowboys cheerleader, too - Barbie has not branched out into technology or engineering. Ap

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Government stops PPSC examination for ACE posts
Lahore: The Punjab government has stopped the Punjab Public Service Commission (PPSC) examination for posts in the Anti Corruption Establishment (ACE), sources said on Saturday.

PPSC Deputy Secretary Zahid Hussain said that the Services and General Administration Department had issued a letter to the PPSC in which the commission was directed to stop examinations for ACE's advertised posts until further notice.

According to government statistics the PPSC advertised 81 ACE Department posts on March 9, 2008. The posts advertised were on a permanent basis and had been advertised during the tenure of the caretaker provincial government. About 25,000 people applied for the posts.

The posts advertised include two Grade-18 posts of deputy director (technical), seven posts of assistant director (AD) (investigation), 37 posts of AD of legal/prosecution, two posts of AD (technical), one Grade-17 post of AD Forensic Lab, two Grade-11 posts of sub-engineer (civil), 13 Grade-16 posts of inspectors/circle officer, three Grade-11 posts of draftsman and 14 Grade-9 posts of assistant sub inspectors.

The applicants criticised the government for stopping recruitments at the advertised posts. They said that they had been preparing for the examination for four months.

According to government sources, the Punjab government does not want to credit postings and reforms in the ACE to the caretaker government. Sources added that the government did not want to appoint applicants on a permanent basis and might instead fill the vacancies on a deputation basis, as was previously done.

Public Relations Officer to the Chief Minister and Punjab government Spokesman Abid Noor Bhatti said that the caretaker government was not authorised to take decisions regarding recruitments. He said that according to the law, the caretaker set up was only bound to conduct elections, while major policymaking decisions like permanent recruitments had to be made by an elected government. He said that the Punjab government had abolished the permanent posts due to technical flaws within the ACE Department. He added that the department was however not being abolished. Daily Times

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