Gender Differences in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) Interest, Credits Earned, and NAEP Performance in the 12th Grade
As technical and scientific innovation continue to drive the global economy, educators, policymakers, and scientists seek to promote students’ interest and achievement in the STEM fields to maintain the nation’s competitive positions. Many researchers have studied differences in male and female students’ attitudes toward and performance in STEM courses and assessments. While some research shows that gaps in male and female performance on STEM-related assessments have narrowed or even closed, other research continues to report gender differences in student affective dispositions (i.e., interest) toward mathematics and science, as well as differences in student performance in mathematics and science, especially in math-intensive science fields.
This Statistics in Brief describes high school graduates’ attitudes toward STEM courses (specifically, mathematics and science), credits earned in STEM fields, and performance on the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) mathematics and science assessments in 2009.
- In 2009, compared to males, lower percentages of female high school graduates reported that they liked mathematics or science and that mathematics or science was one of their favorite subjects.
- Compared to males, higher percentages of female 2009 high school graduates took algebra II, precalculus, advanced biology, chemistry, and health science/technology courses.
- Generally, among 2009 high school graduates who had earned credits in specific mathematics and science courses, males had higher average NAEP mathematics and NAEP science scale scores than females.