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skoolboy Goes to the Olympics, II: Gender

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On Friday, eduwonkette wondered about how gender figured into my Olympics-inspired international comparison of high student literacy in math and science. Ask and you shall receive, e. Today I’m reporting data on the percentage of males and females in different countries and economies that are high achievers, and within-country differences in these percentages. On Friday, I was looking at the top 5% of students in each country. Today, I’m using the percentage of students in each country scoring at the highest level on the 2006 PISA science and math literacy scales. (Yeah, proficiency scores, but what can you do.) In science, there are six levels of proficiency, with 1.3% of students across the OECD countries scoring at Level 6. This is more selective than the top 5% in each country. But I should point out that PISA assesses the real-world application of math and science skills, and is not a narrowly-tailored test of particular math and science disciplines. Such tests might well yield different country rankings and gender differences.

Only five countries have a statistically significant difference in the percentage of males and females achieving the top level in science: Austria, Japan, the United Kingdom, Hong Kong-China, and Israel. In 37 other countries, including the U.S., the percentages of males and females at the top level in science are statistically indistinguishable. Among males, seven countries have a significantly higher percentage at the top level than the U.S. does, and 19 countries have a significantly lower percentage. 17 countries have a percentage of males at the top level that is indistinguishable from the U.S. percentage. (Finland and New Zealand are at the top of the international heap, with 4.6% and 4.4%, respectively, whereas 1.6% of U.S. males are at the top level.) Among females, only two countries (also Finland and New Zealand) have a significantly higher percentage scoring at the top level in science than does the U.S., whereas 19 countries have a percentage that is significantly lower. 20 countries are statistically indistinguishable from the U.S.’s percentage of 1.5% of females at the top level.

In math, about 3% of the students in OECD countries score at Level 6, the top level of mathematics proficiency. In 24 countries, the percentage of males at Level 6 is reliably higher than the percentage of females, and in no country does the percentage favor females. (In 22 countries, including the U.S., the percentages of males and females at Level 6 do not differ statistically.) 26 countries have a statistically greater percentage of males at Level 6 than the 1.5% of U.S. males who achieve this level, and only 9 countries are lower than the U.S., with 15 countries at about the same percentage. U.S. females don’t fare much better against their international peers. In 15 countries, the percentage of young women scoring at Level 6 exceeds the U.S. percentage of 1.0%, and in six countries the percentage at Level 6 is significantly lower than the U.S. percentage.

Most striking to skoolboy was a comparison of the math performance of females in other countries to that of U.S. males. In 15 countries, the percentage of females achieving Level 6 on the PISA mathematics assessment exceeds the percentage of U.S. males at Level 6. Chinese Taipei (which is kicking everybody’s butts), Hong Kong-China, Liechtenstein, and Korea all have at least four times as many females at Level 6 in math, proportionally, as the U.S. has males at Level 6.

What about reading? About 8% of students in OECD countries scored at Level 5, the top proficiency level, in 2006. In 35 countries, the percentage of females at Level 5 exceeded the percentage of males by a statistically significant amount. In 18 countries, the percentages for males and females were indistinguishable. Unfortunately, the U.S. is not included in this comparison, because we dropped the baton in the relay: a mistake in printing the reading test booklets invalidated the scores.

27 Comments

Hopefully this isn't asking too much, but can you include any links, or was this a paper and pencil deal?

Hey Morgan,

skoolboy is away this week, so I am filling in to respond to his commenters - do you mean links to the original PISA data? These numbers come from his own analysis of PISA.

I was just curious if he'd pulled any of this straight from a PISA report (or extrapolated from an existing table or chart). Would be worth following along at home if there are any tables/charts that go with the data. If not that's fine, just wondering.

Based on the the original data from the national Longitidinal Study of Youth, the PISA data, the recent Hyde study, and others, are we ready to vindicate larry Summers yet?

Can I at least get a kumbaya?

Based on the the original data from the national Longitidinal Study of Youth, the PISA data, the recent Hyde study, and others, are we ready to vindicate larry Summers yet?

Can I at least get a kumbaya?

How often will creationists admit that their world view doesn't comport with evidence? The Creationists of the Left are no different in this regard than the Religious Creationists.

Hey Ken & T-Man,

From my own analyses of math data, I definitely buy the extreme achievement hypothesis - but that alone didn't get Summers baked, at least in my opinion. For others who are interested, here is the relevant part of the NBER speech:

The second thing that I think one has to recognize is present is what I would call the combination of, and here, I'm focusing on something that would seek to answer the question of why is the pattern different in science and engineering, and why is the representation even lower and more problematic in science and engineering than it is in other fields. And here, you can get a fair distance, it seems to me, looking at a relatively simple hypothesis. It does appear that on many, many different human attributes-height, weight, propensity for criminality, overall IQ, mathematical ability, scientific ability-there is relatively clear evidence that whatever the difference in means-which can be debated-there is a difference in the standard deviation, and variability of a male and a female population. And that is true with respect to attributes that are and are not plausibly, culturally determined. If one supposes, as I think is reasonable, that if one is talking about physicists at a top twenty-five research university, one is not talking about people who are two standard deviations above the mean. And perhaps it's not even talking about somebody who is three standard deviations above the mean. But it's talking about people who are three and a half, four standard deviations above the mean in the one in 5,000, one in 10,000 class. Even small differences in the standard deviation will translate into very large differences in the available pool substantially out. I did a very crude calculation, which I'm sure was wrong and certainly was unsubtle, twenty different ways. I looked at the Xie and Shauman paper-looked at the book, rather-looked at the evidence on the sex ratios in the top 5% of twelfth graders. If you look at those-they're all over the map, depends on which test, whether it's math, or science, and so forth-but 50% women, one woman for every two men, would be a high-end estimate from their estimates. From that, you can back out a difference in the implied standard deviations that works out to be about 20%. And from that, you can work out the difference out several standard deviations. If you do that calculation-and I have no reason to think that it couldn't be refined in a hundred ways-you get five to one, at the high end. Now, it's pointed out by one of the papers at this conference that these tests are not a very good measure and are not highly predictive with respect to people's ability to do that. And that's absolutely right. But I don't think that resolves the issue at all. Because if my reading of the data is right-it's something people can argue about-that there are some systematic differences in variability in different populations, then whatever the set of attributes are that are precisely defined to correlate with being an aeronautical engineer at MIT or being a chemist at Berkeley, those are probably different in their standard deviations as well. So my sense is that the unfortunate truth-I would far prefer to believe something else, because it would be easier to address what is surely a serious social problem if something else were true-is that the combination of the high-powered job hypothesis and the differing variances probably explains a fair amount of this problem.

. . .because it would be easier to address what is surely a serious social problem if something else were true

A serious social problem in the same sense that Religious Creationists view the teaching of evolution in public schools and its incorporation into the fabric of society as a serious social problem.

These viewpoints emerge from fundamental axioms. Religious Creationists believe that god created man in his image and starting from that axiom one will inevitably conclude that culture and public policies which reject the views that develop from the Axiom are signs of troubling social problems.

For those with a Leftist Creationist bent, who hold to an axiom that there are no substantive biological differences across groups or gender and that due to the uniformity of humanity that there should be no reason for differences in the cultural sphere, then any instance of such differences is a telltale sign that there is a serious social problem that needs to be remedied.

Why exactly is it that under-representation of females in STEM is a serious social problem but the far more drastic under-representation of male kindergarten teachers and daycare workers is not a problem at all?

I know firsthand how extensive the outreach efforts are for women in STEM but I simply don't see a serious social problem when qualified women act on their preferences and build careers in other fields because they find the nature of the work in the alternative career to be more appealing. I simply don't understand the appeal of forcing more women to become engineering professors when they'd rather employ their smarts as, let's say, physicians.

If I'm misreading you and by "serious social problem" you mean something else besides statistical discrimination, I'd be interesting in reading your thoughts.

I'm focusing on something that would seek to answer the question of why is the pattern different in science and engineering, and why is the representation even lower and more problematic in science and engineering than it is in other fields.

Because engineers, mathematicians and scientists are more sexist than their peers in the faculties of law, medicine and business. Why everyone knows this.

Simply having the smarts to do a job is, of course, a necessary condition, but alone it is insufficient to insure one gets the job. One also needs interest in the field. So, the gender variance of intelligence is simply one component. Then there are personality variances to consider (does one prefer working with people or spending one's days working on abstract notions?) as well as other factors which compound the Inequality Conundrum.

There exist plenty of women who have the mental chops to be engineering professors but they simply didn't find the work as interesting as what they find in their current occupation, so they devote their extraordinary attributes to other topics. Where is the serious social problem here - I simply don't see it.

On the whys of under-representation, Larry Summers put it succintly "...my twin two year old girls were playing with trucks - look, the mommy truck is carrying the baby truck" and I think that ties in with the "schools can't do it alone" argument.

Hi TangoMan - I should have been clear that I don't believe that the greater variance in male scores explains women's underrepresentation in some science fields, and that I do see this distribution as a social problem. Surely there is a social component to women's career choices - the best evidence of this is how dramatically women's representation in many sciences has changed over the last 40 years.

At the college level, the number of science and engineering degrees awarded to women have steadily increased over the past 20 years, so that now women earn 50% of the S&E BS degrees.

This does not mean that our K-12 is doing a great job, it just means that in terms of gender, there is very little difference in S&E college outcomes between men and women.

More disturbing though is the extreme downward trend in the US in total engineering degrees awarded.

Between 1985 and 2005, the number of total engineering BS degrees granted fell 15%. This is an absoulte number and not relative to population growth.

www.nsf.gov/statistics/seind08/c2/c2s4.htm#c2s42

So why the extreme decrease in students (male and female) choosing not to study engineering? Why is it that our K-12 education is failing to spark interest in engineering (even when compared to previous generations) and failing to adequately prepare students to succeed in a mathematically challenging field?

My favorite take on the "Larry Summers issue" was this one in the Boston Globe:

http://tinyurl.com/5sj9er

Summers may have hit on some issues that contribute to the disparity between the numbers of men and women in science, but basically his talk -- as can be seen in the excerpt eduwonkette provided above -- was a hand-waving, scatter-shot collection of a wide variety explanations for the disparity, with no serious analysis.

Hand-waving discussion of new ideas can be interesting -- you put ideas out there, and other people can run with them and do more serious analyses. However, hand-waving explanations of the status-quo aren't very interesting -- since that status quo exists, it can be explained -- the interesting questions are which of the possible explanations is correct and whether the status quo is inevitable.

My impression from what colleagues at Harvard have said is that Summers' presidency would have survived that particular incident if it was an isolated one, but that he had already alienated a lot of people with similar moments where self-assurance substituted for careful analysis. And the people he alienated were not just humanities and social science faculty -- some of his most vocal critics were in the sciences.

Harvard Magazine had an interesting retrospective on Summers' presidency -- I see if I can find a link for those who are interested.

I should have been clear that I don't believe that the greater variance in male scores explains women's underrepresentation in some science fields, and that I do see this distribution as a social problem.

Yes, but WHY do you see this as a problem? You're assigning a normative value to a descriptive situation.

Female under-representation in the sciences is the reality we live with. We can't assign a value judgment to this reality simply on the basis of its existence. To assign a value judgment to this reality we need to draw on some philosophic works which can guide us in determining the reasons why female under-representation in science is a bad outcome.

To go a level deeper in the analysis, let me ask the following question: If none of the factors that lead to female under-representation in science are negative then can the outcome, under-representation, be considered negative and secondarily, will the remedy include subverting processes which themselves are not harmful or discriminatory?

To put this in concrete terms, if the women who are capable of making a go of a career in science are themselves making the choice that they would prefer a career in another field, one likely to have more human interaction instead of dealing with cold mathematics, then why is the resultant disparity a bad outcome? Or the flip-side, WHY is it a good outcome that we force more women to enter careers to which they have shown a disinterest? (Note my use of the qualifier "more women" indicating that women do show interest in science careers, just not to the same degree as men.)

I'm arguing that a good deal of this thinking relies on a creationist axiom - that is, there are no gender differences and this means that there SHOULD NOT be any disparity in the social sphere.

You indicate that you're open to the notion of gender differences being at work and resulting in some disparity but yet you seem to hold that disparity SHOULD NOT exist. How are you reconciling these two positions? Why shouldn't it if it results from non-negative actions?

Lastly, don't overlook the social problems of many women preferring female OB/GYNS over male OB/GYNS or the problem of men avoiding careers where they have to interact with young children. What are you going to do to insure that the personal preferences in the two examples above are made invalid so that the desired outcome, gender parity, is achieved?

Or to put all of the above into a simple phrase, "Why the preference for insuring equal outcomes rather than working to insure equal opportunity?"

Equal opportunity respects diversity and insures a fair playing field. Equal outcomes requires the heavy hand of the social engineer and rejects the celebration of diversity as it seeks to impose uniformity on unwilling participants who don't know better than the social engineer.

Rachel, Couldn't agree with you more. Summers had a troubled presidency that long predated this NBER speech.

TangoMan - There are two social problems - first, that there are many other countries that have more gender equity in average math achievement, as the Science article earlier in the summer suggested. Though I don't remember the specifics from that article, I suspect that some countries are better than others at helping women achieve at high levels (i.e. top 10%) in math and science.

Second, one need not be in the top 1% of the distribution in math to pursue a career in math/science. Summers was referring to the gender distribution of faculty at the top 25 schools, but one does not need to perform 4 SDs above the mean to pursue a career in science and math.

My argument is not normative - it's based on the historical and comparative/international record. What if one had made your argument 40 years ago - that women's under-representation in science was the natural order of things? What evidence do we have that the present distribution the "correct" one?

Though I don't remember the specifics from that article, I suspect that some countries are better than others at helping women achieve at high levels (i.e. top 10%) in math and science.

Are they similarly helping boys match the performance of girls in the Language Arts?

one does not need to perform 4 SDs above the mean to pursue a career in science and math.

Very true. The point that the social engineers are missing is whether there are that many women, who are not in STEM, but aspire to be because they love the type of work that is being done but are held back by factors that are amenable to policy change?

Frankly, there are indications that a sizable minority of women currently in STEM fields regret their career choice. For instance, look at the data of female engineers who leave the profession and the direction that they follow with their new careers:

The engineering field is facing major challenges keeping women in the work force, according to a study released by the Society of Women Engineers and presented at an October congressional briefing. The SWE Retention Study finds that one in four women who enters engineering leaves the profession after the age of 30, while only one in 10 of their male counterparts does the same.

women are more likely to cite a more family-friendly work environment (12%) and more interesting work (48%).

When women leave engineering, many (11%) enter the teaching profession, followed by finance (10%) and sales (6%). Men are about twice as likely (22%) to choose a career in finance.

Nearly half the women leave for more interesting work, but the article doesn't tell us how these women define interesting. It is certainly suggestive that teaching and sales, two professions that require extensive personal interaction, are where many of these women choose to direct their energies. Also suggestive is that twice as many men as women migrate to careers in finance, which like engineering, relies heavily on analytic skills and less so on interacting with people.

So, why aren't we pulling our hair out about the choices that these men are making? Why aren't they choosing careers in teaching to the same extent as women? Should we have a National Commission on that topic? What should we do to encourage boys to become teachers?

My argument is not normative - it's based on the historical and comparative/international record.

Yes, your argument is normative because the statistics in themselves don't tell us WHY gender disparity is a "social problem." You're presenting this conclusion on the basis of an unstated premise.

What I'm asking for is an answer to the question of WHY gender uniformity is the hallmark of a just society and WHY statistical evidence of gender disparity is indicative of a social problem?

Lastly, you could probably achieve greater results in convincing those women who are traitors to the cause, for instance the female engineers who are leaving the profession to go into more people-centric professions to remain as engineers than you would in enticing more female students to pursue careers in fields that run against their personal inclinations. The women who live and breath mathematics and see the world through engineer's eyes already have the path cleared for them - the engineering profession is desperate to welcome them. The young women are don't think in such a fashion are going to be a tough sell, and really why should social engineers force them to pursue careers that run against their own interests? Better to focus on the traitors to the cause.

And again, underlying this who issue is the question of why gender disparity, in an environment of equal opportunity, is indicative of social problems. I don't think that you can rely on the excuse of creationism because you indicate your acceptance of the proposition that there exist gender differences in the variance of mathematical aptitude, so I'm assuming that you're also willing to accept that there exist gender differences on a host of other metrics. A leftist creationist on the other hand rejects the notion of biology having anything to do with how humans conduct themselves in the social sphere, so to them any disparity must be the result of environmental influence and environment, as every good Marxist knows, can be remade to fashion the "New Man" or in the case of feminist causes, "The New Woman."

Despite "anecdote" not being the singular form of "data," I'll toss in a couple of cents worth from my personal experience...

My husband and I both have science PhDs -- same institution, same sub-field. He's probably somewhat further out on the tail of the mathematical aptitude distribution than I am -- and somewhat further out on the tail of the distribution of the quality physicists refer to as being "smart." But I don't think either of those really explain the difference in our career paths -- he now has a full-time tenured position, I have a part-time adjunct position -- we certainly both had the math skill we needed for the field we chose. The big difference, I think, has been that a full-time tenured academic job was really important to him in a way that it never was for me, and much -- perhaps not all -- of that is cultural.

Is that a problem at the social policy level? I'm not sure... If you believe that there's a shortage of scientists in the U.S. then having talented women opt to do something else is a concern -- just as if you believe there's a shortage of talented kindergarten teachers it's a concern if men who would be good kindergarten teachers opt for other paths.

But overlooking the cultural factors involved in the choices men and women make, and try to explain the differences in those choices as the result of immutable biological characteristics is a problem.

Hi TangoMan,

Re, "What I'm asking for is an answer to the question of WHY gender uniformity is the hallmark of a just society:" I don't subscribe to gender uniformity, if by that you mean every field has a perfect balance of men and women. But that many more women go to college aspiring to major in math and science than do, that women leave science/math/engineering careers at remarkably high rates (careers that they are ostensibly committed to), and that high-level positions in these fields are overwhelmingly held by men suggest that there is likely more than just "individual preferences" responsible.

My own preferred method for establishing whether a society is just is a variant of Rawls' veil of ignorance - even if you limited your possible fortunes to the US, would you prefer to be a woman or a man? If the burdens attached to some social positions are so great that one would rather not occupy them - i.e. you would rather not be born a woman or a racial minority in this country - we have good reasons to worry about the structure of opportunity in our country.

Back to a critical point: When other countries have very different gender distributions of math achievement - for example, consider skoolboy's finding that, "In 15 countries, the percentage of females achieving Level 6 on the PISA mathematics assessment exceeds the percentage of U.S. males at Level 6. Chinese Taipei (which is kicking everybody’s butts), Hong Kong-China, Liechtenstein, and Korea all have at least four times as many females at Level 6 in math, proportionally, as the U.S. has males at Level 6." - how can you argue that the persistent male average advantage in math achievement in the US at all grades levels - for example, we see a male advantage in the 4th, 8th, and 12th grade NAEP - is just a matter of genetics and personal preferences?

Also, why you would use self-reports of reasons for leaving a field as primary evidence of the true reasons for leaving a field is beyond me. People are notoriously bad at explaining why they are doing things.

"So, why aren't we pulling our hair out about the choices that these men are making? Why aren't they choosing careers in teaching to the same extent as women? Should we have a National Commission on that topic? What should we do to encourage boys to become teachers?"

You might not have actually wanted an answer for this (and I hope not to derail the very interesting debate), but for what it's worth as a former male teacher, I think our schools do need more male teachers. A lot of my students, girls and boys, didn't have many male role models around. I'm sure schools would be happy to use your scientific knowledge in the classroom.

Northeast Asians have an across the board, i.e., male and female, advantage in math IQ in the neighborhood of 3/4 of a SD. That's why more females (and males) are scoring at higher levels on the math exam.

how can you argue that the persistent male average advantage in math achievement in the US at all grades levels - for example, we see a male advantage in the 4th, 8th, and 12th grade NAEP - is just a matter of genetics and personal preferences?

Is there another explanation with supporting data?

Putting aside some of TMs rants about Leftist Creationism, this really boils down to a nature vs nurture argument. To place all of the weight on the nature side simply overlooks some of the elephants in the sociological living room. At age 50 something, I am the product of an education system that reported standardized test scores by gender (mine were pretty good for a girl--it was decades later that I realized they were pretty good, full stop). Mechanical drawing, a class I was drawn to in junior high, was available to me only if I was willing to be the only girl in the class (I took art instead). I did not lack for positive role models. My dad, and one of his sisters, were doctors (though he was a surgeon and she a pediatrician). My mom had a master's degree (nursing). I even received a recruiting letter from MIT. I did not choose to follow a career in mathematics or science. I don't know how much of my choices (which I do not regret) came from some innate source, and how much tied to the erector sets and lincoln logs my brothers got while I got dolls.

Cultural effects change very slowly. The movement of men into nursing has likely outpaced the movement of men into childcare and kindergarten. Yet there is also a difference in salary. We still have differentials in salaries that women will accept vs what men will accept, that probably still relate to what is available. These things contribute to the overall culture of choice-making. I believe that there are still (perhaps untested) differentials societally in the sense of male and female entitlement that impact choicemaking in career and education. Witness the attention that has been sparked by the suspician that boys are falling behind girls in academic achievement. This is taken by many to be an indication of unfairness in the education system. This reaction springs from the social side of things--again, an elephant in the room too big to overlook in assessing such things as biological diversity (particularly when measured by outcomes such as women in high positions at top universities).

Putting aside some of TMs rants about Leftist Creationism, this really boils down to a nature vs nurture argument.

There are no rants in my comments, I'm simply using the most accurate descriptions possible for describing many people. What would you call folks who rallied against the teaching of evolution in school and wanted their mystical folklore taught in its place? Creationists, right?

So why not accurately describe those folks on the left who also believe some mystical force stopped human evolution dead 60,000 years ago during the Out-Of-Africa migrations and that human evolution and biology have no influence in the current sociological sphere?

If both sides aim to deny the influence of evolution by reliance on mystical forces, then they're both creationists, they only differ in which mystical force each relies on.

At least the religious creationists are more honest in their position in that they make it quite clear that they don't want evolution taught at all because such teaching is a direct threat to their belief that humans were created in their present form 6,000 years ago.

The Left however is more duplicitous in that they posture as defenders of enlightenment and claim that evolution must be taught to our children, but when push comes to shove, they put convenient limits on its applicability so that it doesn't threaten their world view. This position is like being a little bit pregnant.

For the Left, the acceptance of evolution is a more of a cultural marker, it that they get to look at themselves as being more enlightened than the religious yokels who believe in mystical forces creating humans in their present form but they leave unexamined the mystical force that they rely on that stopped human evolution dead in its tracks many thousands of years ago.

Here's a perfect illustration. How many sociologists do you think are Religious Creationists? I don't think many at all. How many do you think would fight against the antics of creationists seeking to impose their view on local school boards. I would think probably quite a few. Yet, look at how they see the world:

Sociologists often react with hostility to explanations that evoke biology, and some critics of the discipline contend that this “biophobia” undermines the credibility of sociology and makes it seem increasingly irrelevant in larger public debates.. . . . . We do not believe that developments in these fields will force sociologists to acquire considerable biological expertise to pursue questions central to the discipline, but we do advocate further efforts from biologically minded sociologists to articulate understandings of the relationship between sociology and biology that will continue to push us past the commonplace view that biological and sociological explanations are inevitably opposed.

So, IIRC, in another thread you were arguing the extremist position that environment is responsible for 100% of variance in student outcomes. In my books this is a creationist argument. I call them like I see them. Wear your badge proudly.


To place all of the weight on the nature side simply overlooks some of the elephants in the sociological living room.

Can you argue honestly? No one in these debates has been placing ALL of the the weight on the nature side. We're simply arguing that SOME of the weight should be placed on the nature side. In fact, it's extremists like you who argue that ALL of the weight should be placed on the nurture side.

But overlooking the cultural factors involved in the choices men and women make, and try to explain the differences in those choices as the result of immutable biological characteristics is a problem.

I'm not overlooking cultural factors at all. I'm simply trying to inject biological factors into this discussion, which without the input of Ken and myself would focus entirely on cultural factors.

If you need a more blatant statement, here it is - culture matters, biology isn't everything, but neither is culture everything and biology matters. They also interact quite significantly and let's not forget that culture is scaffolded on top of biology.

TM:

Are you arguing that men have evolved differently than women? It has been decades since I was introduced to DNA and all that, but my understanding was that both male and female contributed.

Are you arguing that men have evolved differently than women? It has been decades since I was introduced to DNA and all that, but my understanding was that both male and female contributed.

Do you recall in an earlier debate where someone brought in the reference of Lewontin's finding that 85% of genetic variance occurs within race and only 15% between races? There is a serious flaw in that finding, but let's leave that aside for the moment and just accept it at face value. OK?

Using the same methodology we know that a female human has more genetic similarity to a female chimpanzee than to a male human, and vice versa of course. That is the the DNA that controls gender comprises a larger chunk of the genome than the DNA that comprises species.

That said, the same analytic flaw that undoes Lewontin's finding and makes it a fallacy is applicable here.

If I had a way to post photos I could show you scans of male and female brains and how different parts of the brain activate when the subjects are asked to do identical tasks.

In short, men and women are different and these differences have real world consequences. There is a huge amount of overlap but the overlap isn't total. All I'm saying is that we shouldn't ignore biology in such questions for if you exclude such a significant factor from your study design then you'll NEVER craft a solution that works.

I think there's plenty of evidence that nature plays a significant role in educational achievement, just as it plays a significant role in athletic achievement. I don't think environment alone (or even primarily) made me good at math and lousy at music, or makes my daughter spell badly in almost exactly the same way I do.

However, I don't think it follows that those "nature" factors are correlated with race or ethnicity, or, in this society, with SES. I recognize that one could imagine a society where environmental factors had been mitigated, and SES correlated strongly with educational attainment, and educational attainment correlated strongly with "nature" differences in ability -- but I don't think that describes the U.S. at this time.

Comments are now closed for this post.

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do schools matter
Doug Ready
Doug Staiger
dropout factories
dropout rate
dropouts
education books
education policy
education policy thinktanks
educational equity
educational research
educational triage
effects of neighborhoods on education
effects of No Child Left Behind
effects of schools
effects of Teach for America
elite education
ETS
Everyday Antiracism
excessed teachers
exit exams
experienced teachers
Fordham and Ogbu
Fordham Foundation
Frederick Douglass High School
Gates Foundation
gender
gender and education
gender and math
gender and science and mathematics
gifted and talented
gifted and talented admissions
gifted and talented program
gifted and talented programs in New York City
girls and math
good schools
graduate student union
graduation rate
graduation rates
guns in Chicago
health benefits for teachers
High Achievers
high school
high school dropouts
high school exit exams
high school graduates
high school graduation rate
high-stakes testing
high-stakes tests and science
higher ed
higher education
highly effective teachers
Houston Independent School District
how to choose a school
IES
incentives in education
Institute for Education Sciences
is teaching a profession?
is the No Child Left Behind Act working
Jay Greene
Jim Liebman
Joel Klein
John Merrow
Jonah Rockoff
Kevin Carey
KIPP
KIPP and boys
KIPP and gender
Lake Woebegon
Lars Lefgren
leaving teaching
Leonard Sax
Liam Julian

Marcus Winters
math achievement for girls
McGraw-Hill
meaning of high school diploma
Mica Pollock
Michael Bloomberg
Michelle Rhee
Michelle Rhee teacher contract
Mike Bloomberg
Mike Klonsky
Mike Petrilli
narrowing the curriculum
National Center for Education Statistics Condition of Education
NCLB
neuroscience
new teachers
New York City
New York City bonuses for principals
New York City budget
New York City budget cuts
New York City Budget cuts
New York City Department of Education
New York City Department of Education Truth Squad
New York City ELA and Math Results 2008
New York City gifted and talented
New York City Progress Report
New York City Quality Review
New York City school budget cuts
New York City school closing
New York City schools
New York City small schools
New York City social promotion
New York City teacher experiment
New York City teacher salaries
New York City teacher tenure
New York City Test scores 2008
New York City value-added
New York State ELA and Math 2008
New York State ELA and Math Results 2008
New York State ELA and Math Scores 2008
New York State ELA Exam
New York state ELA test
New York State Test scores
No Child Left Behind
No Child Left Behind Act
passing rates
Pearson
picking a school
press office
principal bonuses
proficiency scores
push outs
pushouts
qualitative educational research
qualitative research in education
quitting teaching
race and education
racial segregation in schools
Randall Reback
Randi Weingarten
Randy Reback
recovering credits in high school
Rick Hess
Robert Balfanz
Robert Pondiscio
Roland Fryer
Russ Whitehurst
Sarah Reckhow
school budget cuts in New York City
school choice
school effects
school integration
single sex education
skoolboy
small schools
small schools in New York City
social justice teaching
Sol Stern
SREE
Stefanie DeLuca
stereotype threat
talented and gifted
talking about race
talking about race in schools
Teach for America
teacher effectiveness
teacher effects
teacher quailty
teacher quality
teacher tenure
teachers
teachers and obesity
Teachers College
teachers versus doctors
teaching as career
teaching for social justice
teaching profession
test score inflation
test scores
test scores in New York City
testing
testing and accountability
Texas accountability
TFA
The No Child Left Behind Act
The Persistence of Teacher-Induced Learning Gains
thinktanks in educational research
Thomas B. Fordham Foundation
Tom Kane
Tweed
University of Iowa
Urban Institute study of Teach for America
Urban Institute Teach for America
value-addded
value-added
value-added assessment
Washington
Wendy Kopp
women and graduate school science and engineering
women and science
women in math and science
Woodrow Wilson High School