Girls outpace boys in US IT and engineering test

Girls who beat boys who test boys like they're girls who test boys worse than girls

A study from the US government's National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) has found that girls test higher than boys in engineering and technology.

The study, analyzing data from a 2014 round of tests on 21,500 eighth-grade students, found that on average, girls scored three points higher than boys on a series of science and engineering questions.

The computer-based Technology and Engineering Learning (TEL) assessment pitted the students against questions based on realistic scenarios.

"The TEL assessment measured three content areas: Technology and Society, Design and Systems, and Information and Communication Technology," the NAEP said of the study.

"Within the content areas, students were expected to demonstrate thinking and reasoning skills specified in three practices: Understanding Technological Principles, Developing Solutions and Achieving Goals, and Communicating and Collaborating."

Overall, the study concluded that 43 per cent of all the students tested qualified for the "proficient" level or higher, with 45 per cent of girls and 42 per cent of boys reaching the mark.

The scores, which run on a scale from 1 to 300 with a mean of 150, found that overall, girls scored 151 compared to 149 for boys. In the "design portion" of the test, boys and girls both scored 150, while girls outscored boys 153-147 in the "information and communication technology" portion.

The results would appear to counter the notion that female students lack the interest or ability to pursue STEM training, at least at the grade-school level.

Training in STEM skills has been seen as key to helping close the gender gap many tech companies find themselves with, particularly in the engineering and management departments. ®

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