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Girls Closing Gender Gap In Math, Report Suggests

11/28/2011 05:44 EST | Updated 01/28/2012 05:12 EST
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A new report shows that female Grade 8 students are outperforming their male counterparts in Canada on reading and science, with no discernable difference between the two genders in math skills.

The report, released Monday, outlines the results of the 2010 Pan-Canadian Assessment Program (PCAP) from the Council of Ministers of Education in Canada.

It's based on test results from 32,000 Grade 8 students from more than 1,600 schools across the country, providing a national report card.

Girls scored better than boys in both science and reading, lending credence to the view that boys need a push in several subjects.

When it comes to reading and writing there is a problem with how boys view reading and writing, according to Denis Mildon, an independent consultant who helped ensure that CMEC collected the data properly and helped write the report.

“There’s a conception that reading and writing is a feminine act. It is changing a bit, for example male hip-hop artists, they are writing poetry. But it’s a long, difficult cultural battle. We haven’t got there yet,” Mildon said.

Question of 'cultural change'

The test broke math down into four domains. It found that boys did better than girls in numbers and operations, like adding and subtracting.

However there were no significant differences between the sexes for the three other math sections, namely geometry and measurement, patterns and relationships, and data management and probability.

“I think it has to do with cultural change, schools getting rid of ‘gender-tagging’,” Mildon said.

“They have done a lot of work on getting science and math gender-neutral. Both boys and girls are getting an equal voice — neither gender is treated differently,” Mildon added.

The report also found that most students, 91 per cent, performed at the expected level of achievement in math, and almost half are doing better than the average.

The results, which are organized by province, were presented by the Council of Ministers of Education on Monday.

The program tested students in all Canadian jurisdictions except for the Northwest Territories and Nunavut.