ScienceDaily (June 2, 2009) — For more than a century, the notion that females are innately less capable than males at doing mathematics, especially at the highest levels, has persisted in even the loftiest circles.
Now, however, in an analysis of contemporary data published June 1 in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, researchers from the University of Wisconsin-Madison report that the primary cause for the gender disparity in math performance at all levels is culture, not biology.
“It’s not an innate difference in math ability between males and females,” says Janet Mertz, a UW-Madison professor of oncology and one of the authors of the article that analyzes and summarizes recent data on math performance at all levels in the United States and internationally. “There are countries where the gender disparity in math performance doesn’t exist at either the average or gifted level. These tend to be the same countries that have the greatest gender equality.”