Not So Equal After All
Study Confirms Gender Gap in Math Starts Early
Despite global efforts to attract more girls to careers in science, technology, engineering, and math, a new study shows the math gender gap is alive and well and living in America.
Experts at New York University recently looked at the math performance of kids who entered kindergarten in 2010. They found the results virtually unchanged from those of a study that took place a decade earlier, according to lead study author Joseph Robinson Cimpian, associate professor of economics and education policy at NYU.
Data from the earlier work showed U.S. boys and girls began kindergarten with similar skills in math but disparities developed by third grade, with girls falling behind.
In both the 1998-1999 and 2010-2011 datasets, scientists said, girls represented less than one-third of students above the 99th percentile as early as the spring of kindergarten. The gap increased as the kids got older, with girls accounting for just one-fifth of those above the 99th percentile by grade three in the first study and by grade two in the second.
Even when boys and girls behaved the same way and performed comparably, researchers said teachers in both groups underrated the math skills of girls as early as first grade.
Make Kids Fit Again!
Can We Build a Better Playground?
The answer, it turns out, is yes—or so says Steve Ball, University of Missouri’s associate professor of nutrition and exercise physiology, who claims a tweak in playground design, called zoning, will help kids make the most of their outdoor time.
Zoning involves dividing existing recess areas into separate spaces and assigning each one a specific activity, such as basketball or kickball.
Typical playground games are reworked as well, to boost kids’ time in the game and their movement.
In a study conducted by researchers from the UM Department of Nutrition and Exercise Physiology, scientists found “a significant increase in physical activity among kids who played in the zones.
Where Wiser Minds Prevail
Congrats, Parents! Spanking Is on the Decline
Spanking—one of the more controversial ways to discipline children—is falling out of favor among U.S. parents.
In the last two decades, the number of middle-income moms who are OK with the practice slipped from 46 percent to 21 percent.
During the same period, mothers who called time-out a better form of discipline rose from 41 percent to 81 percent, according to lead researcher Rebecca Ryan, an associate professor of psychology at Georgetown University.
Unfortunately, about one-third of low-income moms still spanked or hit kindergarten-age children—and a shocking 25 percent reported using physical punishment in the past week.
The study was published in the journal Pediatrics.