Study: Girls Like Science and Math

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Girls like writing and reading; boys like math and science. At least that's the stereotype. But a new survey shows that girls in elementary school actually like math and science better than language arts.

Researchers at the Miami University in Ohio surveyed nearly 2,000 girls in grades 4 through 8 at public and parochial schools and had them rate their enjoyment of four subjects, science, math, language arts and social studies, on a scale of 1 (strongly dislike) to 5 (really like).

Fourth-grade girls clearly liked science the best; their average enjoyment levels were:

  • 4.11 for science
  • 3.85 for math
  • 3.5 for language arts
  • 3.49 for social studies

As girls get older though, they seem to like science and math less, with science's average likeability score falling to 3.29 for girls in 8th grade.

But these subjects aren't alone, as girls seemed to lose a little interest in every subject. Likeability for social studies fell to 2.91 for 8th graders.

"It doesn't seem like girls are losing interest in science and mathematics any more than they lose interest in other subjects," said study team member Jennifer Blue, a physics professor at Miami.

Just why girls lose interest in all these subjects is something researchers haven't worked out. But the good news, they say, is that girls regain some of their interest in science in college — Miami, for example, has more female botany, microbiology and zoology majors than male majors.

Live Science Staff
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