No link found between gender and performance in physics courses

No link found between gender and performance in physics courses

A new study discredits the stereotype that male students perform better than female students in science, more specifically in physics.

Researchers from Texas A&M University analyzed the grades of more than 10,000 students enrolled in four introductory physics courses over a decade-long period and found no evidence that male students consistently outperformed female students in these courses. Their analyses showed that exam success and final grades were largely independent of student gender. In addition to multiple statistical analyses of course-level data, researchers distributed questionnaires to students to see how the results aligned with student perceptions. Interestingly, student responses showed that female students had lower perceptions of their performance than their male classmates. The only class where female students perceived their performance as equal to their male classmates was algebra-based mechanics, in which females outperformed males. This study can be another step in breaking up the preconceived notion of a societal bias based on gender in physics. Moreover, it may help to fight against gender stereotypes that negatively impact so many female students and harm women in STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) related courses. All students should have equal opportunities and chances for success.