Gender test gap studied
New research suggests females are better at sustaining their performance during maths, science and reading tests than males.
Researchers have conducted two studies to investigate test performance and its implications for gender gaps in test scores.
In the first study, they used data from the Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA), an international standardised test taken every three years assessing 15 year-olds’ performance in maths, science, and reading.
Using data from the tests taken in 2006, 2009, 2012 and 2015 in 74 countries, they found that females outperformed males on verbal reading tests, while males outperformed females on maths and science tests — supporting previous findings.
However, regardless of the type of test, females showed more sustained performance than males.
For more than 20 per cent of the countries included, the gender gap in maths and science scores was offset or reversed after two hours of test taking.
In a second study, the authors used a dataset of male and female performance on 441 maths tests of varying length. Here, longer tests were associated with a smaller gender gap in maths performance.
These findings suggest that performance sustainability and test length are factors in understanding the relatively low number of females working in STEM fields (science, technology, engineering, and maths), given that standardised measures of STEM may affect future educational and career choices or opportunities.