Gender differences in mathematical trajectories

Erin Leahey, Guang Guo

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

91 Scopus citations


In this article we test the hypothesis that male students outperform female students in mathematics. Using large national data sets and curvilinear growth models, we examine gender differences in mathematical trajectories from elementary school through high school. We analyze subsamples of high-scoring students and also different areas of math, such as reasoning and geometry. Despite relatively equal starting points in elementary school, and relatively equal slopes, we find that boys have a faster rate of acceleration. By the 12th grade, this results in a slight gender difference, which is most pronounced in geometry. Realizing this slight and delayed emergence of gender differences, we qualify the strong conclusions of earlier research, such as Benbow and Stanley's (1980, 1983), which found that large gender differences emerge by junior high school.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)713-732
Number of pages20
JournalSocial Forces
Issue number2
StatePublished - Dec 2001

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • History
  • Anthropology
  • Sociology and Political Science


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