I came across the College Board Trends in Performance Report and was struck by the difference in math scores by gender.


I asked a few tutors what they thought, based on experience.

Here’s what Stacey Howe-Lott said:

I know this is the prevailing wisdom out there, but it’s not true with the student I work with.

My top 7 math students are 5 girls and 2 boys. My worst 5 students are 4 girls and one boy.

I know that students who have private tutors are different than your average bear, so maybe that skews the results.

In my inner-city SAT class last fall, I had 5 girls and 3 boys, and 3 of the girls were accepted to colleges.

I also think that the test plays to gender biases – not that boys are smarter in math than girls – but that boys are rewarded in our culture for speaking up and taking wild-ass guesses – plowing forward even when they don’t have the faintest idea what they are doing. And girls are reinforced when they “hang back” and seek consensus before they guess.

A man invented this test that asks for answers on a sheet of paper. If a woman invented the SAT test, it would be conducted in a group and the best scorers would be the ones who mentored their teams and got the highest number of right answers collectively.