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  • Writer's pictureJoanne Jacobs

Even confident, capable girls don’t study STEM

Girls who are high achievers in math, and confident about their ability, are less likely to major in math, engineering and science than high-achieving, confident boys, conclude Gema Zamarro & Lina M. Anayas, who tracked students through college.


At all achievement levels, boys are more confident of their math abilities than girls. That confidence seems to matter more for boys than girls. High confidence raised the probability of majoring in a “hard sciences” STEM field by 13 percentage points for boys, only 6 percentage points for girls, the study found.

High achievement raised the odds of a “hard sciences” major by 7 percentage points for boys but only 2 percentage points for girls.

However, having a parent who works in a STEM occupation has a much stronger effect on girls (14 percent) than on boys (4 percent).

My husband’s younger granddaughter, who’s about to turn seven, seems to have math talent. (Her father is an accounting professor.) We just ordered a “coding robot” for her birthday.

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