Sorry boys: Girls now make higher grades in all school subjects


April 29, 2014 |

For math, science, boys lead on achievement tests while girls do better on classroom grades, research reveals

Despite the stereotype that boys do better in math and science, girls have made higher grades than boys throughout their school years for nearly a century, according to a new analysis published by the American Psychological Association.

“Although gender differences follow essentially stereotypical patterns on achievement tests in which boys typically score higher on math and science, females have the advantage on school grades regardless of the material,” said lead study author Daniel Voyer, PhD, of the University of New Brunswick, Fredericton, Canada. “School marks reflect learning in the larger social context of the classroom and require effort and persistence over long periods of time, whereas standardized tests assess basic or specialized academic abilities and aptitudes at one point in time without social influences.”

Based on research from 1914 through 2011 that spanned more than 30 countries, the study found the differences in grades between girls and boys were largest for language courses and smallest for math and science. The female advantage in school performance in math and science did not become apparent until junior or middle school, according to the study, published in the APA journal Psychological Bulletin. The degree of gender difference in grades increased from elementary to middle school, but decreased between high school and college.

The researchers examined 369 samples from 308 studies, reflecting grades of 538,710 boys and 595,332 girls. Seventy percent of the samples consisted of students from the United States. Other countries or regions represented by more than one sample included Norway, Canada, Turkey, Germany, Taiwan, Malaysia, Israel, New Zealand, Australia, Sweden, Slovakia, United Kingdom Africa and Finland. Countries represented by one sample included Belgium, Czech Republic, Estonia, Mexico, Hong Kong, India, Iran, Jordan, the Netherlands, Portugal, Saudi Arabia, Serbia and Slovenia.

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All studies included an evaluation of gender differences in teacher-assigned grades or official grade point averages in elementary, junior/middle or high school, or undergraduate and graduate university. Studies that relied on self-report and those about special populations, such as high-risk or mentored students, were excluded. The studies also looked at variables that might affect the students’ grades, such as the country where students attended school, course material, students’ ages at the time the grades were obtained, the study date and racial composition of the samples.

The study reveals that recent claims of a “boy crisis,” with boys lagging behind girls in school achievement, are not accurate because girls’ grades have been consistently higher than boys’ across several decades with no significant changes in recent years, the authors wrote.

“The fact that females generally perform better than their male counterparts throughout what is essentially mandatory schooling in most countries seems to be a well-kept secret, considering how little attention it has received as a global phenomenon,” said co-author Susan Voyer, MASc, also of the University of New Brunswick.

As for why girls perform better in school than boys, the authors speculated that social and cultural factors could be among several possible explanations. Parents may assume boys are better at math and science so they might encourage girls to put more effort into their studies, which could lead to the slight advantage girls have in all courses, they wrote. Gender differences in learning styles is another possibility. Previous research has shown girls tend to study in order to understand the materials, whereas boys emphasize performance, which indicates a focus on the final grades. “Mastery of the subject matter generally produces better marks than performance emphasis, so this could account in part for males’ lower marks than females,” the authors wrote.


97 Responses to Sorry boys: Girls now make higher grades in all school subjects

  1. Rocky Colavito May 16, 2014 at 10:49 am #

    Girls have received remedial equalizing attention while
    boys, owing to the religious right, have received
    transference of witchhunt of masculine insecurity,
    such that they’re preoccupied asserting gender
    (boys hurt animals, men don’t, but do if they need
    asserting masculinity.)

    It served the billionaire replacing democracy with
    privatization and the mouthpiece demonizing whomever
    disapproved.

    It had a populational effect.

    http://pastebin.com/AKkBttVT

  2. 14018919 C.M Managanya May 10, 2014 at 6:59 pm #

    Gender (boy/girl) it all boils to one thing that is neurons-DNA- gene. Intelligence is not determined by sexual morphology of an individual but mainly a factor of genotype(looking into somatic cells) and phenotype. I believe that in the past woman were lead into believing that they were only good for baby making and house cleaning because woman were regarded as weak. Woman are far more than just pretty eyes and dish washing machines. Now in the modern world both man and woman contribute to the economy and scientific world equally. Intelligence is based on the kind of genes that were passed on to you and the kind of environment you have been exposed to and remember that a brain that lacks activity is a wasted mind.

  3. u14081017 May 5, 2014 at 12:11 pm #

    If you read Christina Hoff Sommers’ The War Against Boys, you’ll blame feminism for feminizing schools; if you read Leonard Sax’s Why Gender Matters or Michael Gurian’s The Minds of Boys, you’ll think it’s the brain differences between boys and girls that educators don’t take into account; if you read Peg Tyre’s The Trouble with Boys, you’ll conclude that classrooms are unfriendly places for boys, and that teachers’ techniques don’t work for them. If you read other experts, they’ll tell you that the “boy crisis” is overblown.

    During my research I found that ADHD, once called hyperkinesia or minimal brain dysfunction, is one of the most common mental disorders among children. It affects 3 to 5 percent of all children, perhaps as many as 2 million American children. Two to three times more boys than girls are affected. ADHD often continues into adolescence and adulthood, and can cause a lifetime of frustrated dreams and emotional pain.People suffering from ADHD can suffer from underachievement at school due to a learning disability,attention lapses caused by petit mal seizures,a middle ear infection that causes an intermittent hearing problem and disruptive or unresponsive behavior due to anxiety or depression emotional pain.I think ADHD is one of the factors causing boys to get lower marks than girls.

    The scholars attributed this “misalignment” to differences in “noncognitive skills”: attentiveness, persistence, eagerness to learn, the ability to sit still and work independently. As most parents know, girls tend to develop these skills earlier and more naturally than boys.

    There are some who say, well, too bad for the boys. If they are inattentive, obstreperous and distracting to their teachers and peers, that’s their problem. After all, the ability to regulate one’s impulses, delay gratification, sit still and pay close attention are the cornerstones of success in school and in the work force. It’s long past time for women to claim their rightful share of the economic rewards that redound to those who do well in school.

  4. itu May 5, 2014 at 4:42 am #

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  5. Nyasha May 5, 2014 at 4:13 am #

    I strongly disagree that intelligence is determined by gender. I think your intelligence is determined by genes. People are unique we do not have the same potential.

  6. 13072006 May 5, 2014 at 3:55 am #

    To me it comes as no surprise, there’s always been something unique about woman staying at home and doing house chores as men leave for work. As sexist as it sound it shows how complex and multi-tasked woman have always been over the years. While men are uni-tasked and generally prefere the same sports, cars and job for over long periods of time. this shows how woman are capable of processing large information over a small period of time.

  7. Alice Pacheco 14055059 May 5, 2014 at 2:31 am #

    After reading through the article and the in depth and thorough debate amongst the comments I have decided to disagree with the article. I believe that ones intelligence is not determined by gender but rather ones upbringing, exposure to particular environments as well as their genetic disposition. yes it is known that in school girls tend to be more organised md disciplined with their wok than boys which may have an impact on their marks. however this does not prove than over all girls are more clever than boys. it merely depends on the type of person and their influences

  8. Kabelo Mahloromela(14194237) May 5, 2014 at 12:20 am #

    There is a program on the National Geographic Channel called “Brain Games”. Their experiments have show that women have more connected neurons and a larger limbic cortex than man, giving them an increased ability to process information. They concluded that male and female brains actually start diverging in the womb. Ultrasound images of fetuses at 26 weeks, for example, in their studies, have shown that females already have a better developed corpus callosum, the bridge of nerve tissue that connects the right and left sides of the brain. That difference seems to persist into adulthood, and helps give women the ability to use more of their brain to process language than men do. In a research study, when men and women listened to a passage being read aloud from a novel, only the left hemisphere in the male brains was activated. Women subjects, in contrast, showed activity in both the left and right hemispheres.

  9. Liberty.M(14198593) May 4, 2014 at 11:53 pm #

    I disagree that girls are obtaining higher marks than boys since the human brain and the way human beings think is the same irrespective of the gender difference.It has been scientifically proven that intelligence does not at all depend on gender. I think this article is only referring to one country where the research was done and it does not refer to the whole world because the difference in gender performance at academic institutions differs from country to country due to difference in cultural and social behaviours within the human societies which influence the performance of students. Another thing which might bring a difference in gender performance is the issue how boy behave towards their academic work, they think like they are intelligent enough to an extant of not studying for the exams and this will lead to poor performance.

  10. u14081017 May 4, 2014 at 11:15 pm #

    If you read Christina Hoff Sommers’ The War Against Boys, you’ll blame feminism for feminizing schools; if you read Leonard Sax’s Why Gender Matters or Michael Gurian’s The Minds of Boys, you’ll think it’s the brain differences between boys and girls that educators don’t take into account; if you read Peg Tyre’s The Trouble with Boys, you’ll conclude that classrooms are unfriendly places for boys, and that teachers’ techniques don’t work for them. If you read other experts, they’ll tell you that the “boy crisis” is overblown.

    During my research I found that ADHD, once called hyperkinesia or minimal brain dysfunction, is one of the most common mental disorders among children. It affects 3 to 5 percent of all children, perhaps as many as 2 million American children. Two to three times more boys than girls are affected. ADHD often continues into adolescence and adulthood, and can cause a lifetime of frustrated dreams and emotional pain.People suffering from ADHD can suffer from underachievement at school due to a learning disability,attention lapses caused by petit mal seizures,a middle ear infection that causes an intermittent hearing problem and disruptive or unresponsive behavior due to anxiety or depression emotional pain.I think ADHD is one of the factors causing boys to get lower marks than girls.

    The scholars attributed this “misalignment” to differences in “noncognitive skills”: attentiveness, persistence, eagerness to learn, the ability to sit still and work independently. As most parents know, girls tend to develop these skills earlier and more naturally than boys.

  11. u14081017 May 4, 2014 at 11:08 pm #

    If you read Christina Hoff Sommers’ The War Against Boys, you’ll blame feminism for feminizing schools; if you read Leonard Sax’s Why Gender Matters or Michael Gurian’s The Minds of Boys, you’ll think it’s the brain differences between boys and girls that educators don’t take into account; if you read Peg Tyre’s The Trouble with Boys, you’ll conclude that classrooms are unfriendly places for boys, and that teachers’ techniques don’t work for them. If you read other experts, they’ll tell you that the “boy crisis” is overblown.

    During my research I found that ADHD, once called hyperkinesia or minimal brain dysfunction, is one of the most common mental disorders among children. It affects 3 to 5 percent of all children, perhaps as many as 2 million American children. Two to three times more boys than girls are affected. ADHD often continues into adolescence and adulthood, and can cause a lifetime of frustrated dreams and emotional pain.People suffering from ADHD can suffer from underachievement at school due to a learning disability,attention lapses caused by petit mal seizures,a middle ear infection that causes an intermittent hearing problem and disruptive or unresponsive behavior due to anxiety or depression emotional pain.I think ADHD is one of the factors causing boys to get lower marks than girls.

    The scholars attributed this “misalignment” to differences in “noncognitive skills”: attentiveness, persistence, eagerness to learn, the ability to sit still and work independently. As most parents know, girls tend to develop these skills earlier and more naturally than boys

  12. Mashele N 14033501 May 4, 2014 at 7:20 pm #

    I have to agree with this study as it is a hidden fact that girls perform better than boys. This might be because in earlier years girls were not encouraged to go to school so only the boys performances were known leaving the girls at a disadvantage. Girls who tend to be more open often have more support and encouragement to improve their grades unlike boys who often do not like taking help and thinking they know everything which disadvantages them when they they get their grades and finding out that it is lower.

  13. M.Q Molepo (14060559) May 4, 2014 at 2:23 pm #

    Although I have been pondering this question of whether girls do generally perform better in school than boys, I do not find it hard to believe at all. Nature is balanced .For one to work, one has to exist (like the food pyramid, the king of the jungle needs the little ants down there in order to live). So since men are naturally stronger in terms of strength and muscle, women more than make up for it in their brain activity (not that men don’t use their brains). I generally like how the idea does not(like many do) suggest that women are smarter than men because it is very difficult to deduct what is to be considered smart or not. Girls can be better than boys in grades but I think we can all agree that it is likewise for boys when it comes to sporting activities. So to rephrase u10019449’s (who I suspect is female) opening statement, “Girl power in books” but let’s go to sports then definitely “Man power”!

  14. M Manyatsi (14007691) May 4, 2014 at 1:39 pm #

    From previous experiences in school I observed that although there is usually a higher number of females that get high grades, the students with the highest grades are usually male and as such, I believe the article is mostly on point. The part about males caring more about performance is relatively accurate because it is a norm for males, this coming from a male, to focus on getting a higher grade rather than getting a better understanding which is why girls get higher overall grades in the long run. I don’t necessarily believe intellect is dependent on gender though, it is a ll a matter of your genetic make up.

  15. 14119332 May 4, 2014 at 11:58 am #

    I do not think gender has any real implications for education and school work. I also don’t believe that boys are less intellectual than girls. I believe that as much as girls have the abilities to get higher grades,boys have that too. at the end of the day it all comes down to hard work, investing your time, investing your mind,staying focused and believing in your abilities. Whether or not you are a boy or a girl, you can get good and as a matter of fact higher grades. So before we come to the conclusion of which gender is smarter, I suggest we do some more research

  16. 14019036 May 4, 2014 at 9:42 am #

    This may sound a bit like feminism, but I totally agree with the article. Throughout the history of the human race us woman tend to be smarter than men. We may not always be the top engineers or doctors or even scientists, but that is because we know that sometimes you have to step back and allow others ( mostly the men in our lives) to be successful. And if you think about it some of the biggest scientific breakthroughs have been made by woman and the credit was given to men, for example the discovery of DNA’s double helix structure was first discovered by Rosalind Franklin ( a woman) and Watson and Crick got the credit for it. So the evidence in this article comes as no surprise to any of us.

  17. Nolwazi Mabuza May 4, 2014 at 9:00 am #

    Through my experience in attending a Co-Ed school I have noticed that the male gender tends to indulge in more fun adventures than doing their homework or studying. The main reason why this is the case is because most males are engineered to be more active and being team players. It is widely known that most males enjoy being outdoors and going crazy about sports. If this is the case, when do boys have the time to really focus on their education? Growing I have noticed females tend to focus on their future even when they are young and playing with dolls, whereas males are more imaginative and rather enjoy cartoons and things that seem out of the norm. Basically the male gender does not appreciate being confined in a small box. Males are practical individuals who like to touch and see things rather than learning it out of a book, whereas females know where they are heading from a rather small age. They are aware of sexism in the workplace, so females tend to want to prove they are worthy and are capable of doing their job by working harder than males and receiving higher grades. So maybe boys should be less about ‘Rugby’ and “Superman” and more about ‘BOOKS’.

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