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AMC 8 2012 (contest score gender report with percentile)

veronica1999

Member
Jun 4, 2012
63
Hi,

I recently took the AMC 8 and scored a 24 out of 25.
While I was going through the statistics, I was surprised to see top scoring girls were seriously outnumbered by the boys.
Out of 148,557 contestants there were 26 perfect scores for girls and 124 perfect score for boys. For score 24 there were 48 girls and 225 boys.
I guess a ratio of 1:5. I understand there will be many social and cultural reasons for this, but do boys have an innate advantage when it comes to math?
Does this trend continue all the way through our high school and college years?

Veronica.
 

Ackbach

Indicium Physicus
Staff member
Jan 26, 2012
4,191
Re: AMC 8 2012 ( contest score gender report with percentile)

You ask if there is an innate superiority of males over females when it comes to math. I would say no. There are areas where boys are generally superior (geography), and there are areas where females are generally superior (spelling). But I haven't seen that boys are that much better at math than girls.

Now, it's definitely true that the STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math) disciplines, overall, tend to be male-dominated (with the notable exception of biology, which I think is female-dominated). And since Engineering, especially, requires a lot of math, there are probably more boys in math classes overall than girls. But that doesn't imply that the boys are necessarily better at it!
 

alane1994

Active member
Oct 16, 2012
126
Re: AMC 8 2012 ( contest score gender report with percentile)

None of my engineering or mathematics courses have a single female in them. However, my chemistry class has several females in it.
 
Last edited:

Jameson

Administrator
Staff member
Jan 26, 2012
4,040
Re: AMC 8 2012 ( contest score gender report with percentile)

Hi Veronica, :)

First of all, congratulations on such a good score! I hope you're proud. The question you asked is a common one and the short answer is that the sciences (the ones Ackbach listed) are male dominated right now, but it doesn't have to be that way.

I've seen some interesting arguments on gender vs. intelligence that are worth checking out but as far as I've seen there isn't any one that says men are outright better at math than women inherently. Like you mentioned, there are lots of cultural reasons this has been the case historically. Anyway, so just be prepared that you're probably going to see a lot more boys than girls around if you continue math but don't let it discourage you.

It's possible the gap could close quite a bit by the time you are in college too.

Jameson
 

Ackbach

Indicium Physicus
Staff member
Jan 26, 2012
4,191
Re: AMC 8 2012 ( contest score gender report with percentile)

I think it all comes down to preference. While I don't think men are inherently better at engineering, I do think they prefer doing it more than women. The question is: is that a bad thing or not? I'm inclined to think it's not necessarily a bad thing: it's a free country (at least, the USA is, for the most part), and different people have different preferences. Since women are different from men, it's not unreasonable to suppose their preference might be different. That men and women are different in no way implies that you can slap a "<" sign or a ">" sign between men and women. It's apples and oranges.
 

alane1994

Active member
Oct 16, 2012
126
I was reading a study recently for a psychology course that shows that biologically speaking, men are more inclined towards analytical tasks. Such as mathematics. Whereas women are more inclined towards language based tasks. Spelling, language skills, literature. However, that does not mean that you are shoe-horned into a particular type of work/ interests. I would love to see more girls get into the S.T.E.M fields. Not only for more equality, but I am getting tired of staring at classrooms and lecture halls full of guys all day every day. Best of luck, and I hope you continue on in your pursuits. :)
 

Opalg

MHB Oldtimer
Staff member
Feb 7, 2012
2,702
Hi,

I recently took the AMC 8 and scored a 24 out of 25.
While I was going through the statistics, I was surprised to see top scoring girls were seriously outnumbered by the boys.
Out of 148,557 contestants there were 26 perfect scores for girls and 124 perfect score for boys. For score 24 there were 48 girls and 225 boys.
I guess a ratio of 1:5. I understand there will be many social and cultural reasons for this, but do boys have an innate advantage when it comes to math?
Does this trend continue all the way through our high school and college years?

Veronica.
Congratulations on your high score!

What I noticed in 40 years of teaching maths is that there does not seem to be much difference between the sexes as far as mean scores go, but that the standard deviation of the boys' scores is usually quite a bit larger than that of the girls. In other words, there are usually more boys at the top of the class, but also more boys at the bottom of the class.

Whether this is primarily due to cultural or innate reasons is not clear, but it is certainly true that there are now many more women teaching and researching at the highest levels in university math departments than when I started my career. It is clear that there were social pressures holding women back in the past. That may be less so now, but there is probably some way to go before any sort of equality of opportunity is reached.