brain sizes: Einstein's and women's

John Knight johnknight at
Sun Jul 14 15:20:06 EST 2002
Question H09 on the 12th Grade TIMSS Math test given to 12th graders around
the world in 1995 reveals an astounding difference in physics comprehension
between the sexes in all the countries who participated.  Since this was not
a multiple choice question, the scores don't need to be adjusted for correct
guesses, but they do need to be adjusted for the 3% error.  Where 22.7% of
American boys correctly answered the question, only 19.7% are known to have
understood the problem, and where 14.5% of American girls correctly answered
it, only 11.5% are known to have understood the problem. Thus 1.7 times as
many American boys as American girls were able to demonstrate that they
understood the problem.

After adjustment for the 3% error, 60.6% of Australian boys are known to
have understood the problem, which per capita is three times as many as
American boys and more than 5 times as many as American girls.

There was a direct correlation between boys' scores and sex differences.
The percentage of boys who understood the problem increased 2% for each 1%
increase in the "gender gap" [read: the difference between the sexes].  The
biggest "gender gap" was in Australia (33.4%), and the highest scoring boys
were Australian boys (63.6%).  The smallest gender gap was in Greece (3%),
and the lowest scoring boys were Greek boys (only 6.8% correctly answered
the question).

Did Greek girls benefit from this narrowing of the "gender gap"?  No, they
were the lowest scoring girls, with only 3.8% answering correctly,  just
above the 3% error.  Did Australian girls get shortchanged by the failure of
Australia to narrow the "gender gap"?   No, they were the highest scoring
girls, at 30.2%, almost as high as the international average for boys, and
higher than American boys.

While the US had one of the narrowest "gender gaps" at 8.2%, we also had
some of the lowest scoring boys, with only French and Greek boys scoring
lower.  The boys in all other 15 countries who administered this question
scored considerably higher than American boys.

 John Knight

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