Boys dominate AP physics, computer science

Most STEM fields are likely to remain predominantly male. Boys take more AP physics and computer science exams, while girls now dominate AP biology (59 percent), notes Curriculum Matters, who’s been reading the AP Report to the Nation. While Calculus AB exam-takers are evenly split, 59 percent of those who tackle the more advanced Calculus BC are male.

Males make up 58 percent of AP music theory exam-takers, 74 to 77 percent in physics and 80 to 86 percent in computer science.

Gender differences were minor for Chemistry, European History, Latin, Statistics and U.S. Government and Politics.

In The Big Bang Theory, three males are physicists (theoretical, experimental and astro) and one is an engineer, while the female scientists are biologists.


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  1. tim-10-ber says:

    Love seeing the guys excel!! High time, too!!!

    • Yeah, because guys have not had a chance to excel previously…. ???? What is wrong with you, timber?

  2. I’d like to see the male/female breakdown at schools that offer both AB and BC calc. How common is it to offer both? All of my sons attended schools that offered BC, and all took it, but we moved before my daughter finished HS and her school offered only AB.

    • Additional question: what percentage of schools offering AP calc offer BC? If significantly more schools offer AB only, that limits choices.

  3. There is also the issue of girls tending to choose an easier test. My H.S. did not offer AP calculus, but in terms of the SAT II math test, a far higher percentage of the boys enrolled in the honors math track took the harder level 2 test. I don’t think it was a case of higher math ability among the boys, but rather a self-confidence and/or risk-aversion one among the girls.

  4. Thinly Veiled Anonymity says:

    As long as we’re not railroading the kids based on sex, who the @#$&^% cares whether there are more guys in CompSci or more girls in Biology?

    Why is it an issue?

    Turns out there are more guys on wrestling teams, too. But as long as girls aren’t being told they can’t join, so what?

    Our behavior is what matters, not the demographic results.

  5. It’s not any of that. The reality is that Jay Mathew’s Challenge Index gives low ability schools an incentive to push manifestly unready students into AP courses. These students are predominantly female. So whenever you see a course skewed female, figure it’s popular in the low ability rat race for Challenge Index Placement.

    The “guy preferences” are actually the courses that aren’t often selected by schools with low ability kids and so they have a more “natural” population.

  6. George Larson says:

    “the doctrine of disparate impact holds that employment practices may be considered discriminatory and illegal if they have a disproportionate “adverse impact” on members of a minority group. Under the doctrine, a violation of Title VII of the 1964 Civil Rights Act may be proven by showing that an employment practice or policy has a disproportionately adverse effect on members of the protected class as compared with non-members of the protected class”

    Under this doctrine we will have to reduce the number of male students graduating in physics and engineering to match the numbers of graduating women.

  7. Tom Galloway says:

    In fairness, while the field distribution of the regulars in BBT is as you write, their first attempt at a semi-regular female science character was Sheldon’s rival as a theoretical physicist Leslie Winkle, and she and Leonard broke up over a difference of opinion between superstrings and quantum gravity. And there was a one-shot guest star female physicist who even Sheldon respected.

    It’s also the case that Mayim Bialik, who plays Amy Farrah Fowler, a neurologist, actually does have a neuroscience Ph.D.