Throughout history, it has been assumed that men had an inherit ability to comprehend complex mathematical formula and statistical equations far superior to their female counterparts. Because of men’s bodies, and thus brain size, are naturally larger than the average woman, it was believed that men had vast intellectual ability, especially compared to women.
However, studies have shown that brain size are not directly pertinent to the capabilities, therefore women do not hold an intellectual disadvantage. In 2009, a science exam was issued to 15-year-olds throughout 65 countries. The majority of countries sampled displayed girls test scores on average as superior to the boys test scores.
Who was one of few countries where boys tested better than girls? The United States. The male 15-year-olds performed 2.7 percent better than the girls on the science exam. This was reflected through studies of math courses in the United States. The Journal of Applied Developmental Psychology cited that women tend to do worse on math tests during the mid-1990s, creating the stereotype that girls were not on par to boys in math.
This created the notion of “stereotype threat,” which may have subconsciously worsened the performance of female test-takers. The idea that women are inheritably worse at mathematical exams and are incapable, at least to their male colleagues, of comprehending the material at a high level creates the aura of incompetency.
However, recent studies have shown that when women reach higher levels of math, they tend to perform better on math exams. This suggests that once the stigma is broken through and the stereotype that is conquered, the scale tilts to women as the superior test-takes in mathematics.