The math and science coursework taken in high school helps prepare students to pursue an engineering degree. The gender gap in earned high school math and science credits has shrunk over the past few decades, with girls earning approximately the same amount of course credits as boys.
Source: Nord, C., Roey, S., Perkins, R., Lyons, M., Lemanski, N., Brown, J., and Schuknecht, J. (2011). The Nation's Report Card: America's High School Graduates (NCES 2011-462). U.S. Department of Education, National Center for Education Statistics. Washington, DC: U.S. Government Printing Office.
However, fewer girls than boys are taking Advanced Placement exams in STEM-related subject areas, including calculus, physics, and computer science. Students that take Advancement Placement exams are typically interested in either obtaining college credit for those courses or in better preparing themselves for college. Lower rates of AP exams in math and science among girls may indicate a lack of interest in pursuing a STEM degree in college.
Source: The College Board, AP Program Participation and Performance Data, 2017. National Report.
In 2013, a higher proportion of high school girls than boys enrolled in AP/IB or advanced biology courses while a higher proportion of boys than girls enrolled in AP/IB or advanced physics courses. Over selected years between 2005 and 2015, while about 25% of boys scored at or above proficiency level in in NAEP mathematics assessment, less than 25% of girls achieved the same feat. Moreover, boys tend to score higher than girls on different international math and science assessments. Yet in 2015, among each racial/ethnic category, eighth-grade girls scored higher or similarly than their male counterparts on the NAEP technology and engineering literacy assessment.
High School Science Course-Taking, by Gender, 2013
Percentage of 12th graders scoring at or above the main NAEP’s proficient level in mathematics, by Gender, selected years
International Math and Science Assessment Outcomes, by Gender, 2015
Average scores of 8th graders on main NAEP technology and engineering literacy assessment, by Gender and Race/Ethnicity, 2014
- National Science Board. 2018. Science and Engineering Indicators 2018. NSB-2018-1. Alexandria, VA: National Science Foundation. Available at https://www.nsf.gov/statistics/indicators/.
- The College Board. 2018. AP Program Participation and Performance Data. https://research.collegeboard.org/programs/ap/data/participation/ap-2017.