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No clear differences in science performance amongst boys and girls

AUGUST 03, 2007

Claire Haworth and Professor Robert Plomin at the Institute of Psychiatry, at King's have published a paper into the differences between male and female Science performance in Primary School.

Published online in the International Journal of Science Education, this paper “A Twin Study into the Genetic and Environmental Influences on Academic Performance in Science in nine-year-old Boys and Girls” is important as it is the first ever behavioural genetic investigation of science performance. No other researchers have looked at the relative influences of nature and nurture for science performance before.

There has long been debate about the under-representation of women in scientific careers, and there have been suggestions that men are simply intrinsically better at science than women. The researchers aimed to assess whether there are sex differences in the genetic and environmental influences that impact on individual differences in science performance, and whether these differences are present in early science development in primary school.

Using a very large representative cohort of over 2,600 pairs of twins from the Twins' Early Development Study, the researchers showed that in the early school years there are no mean differences in science performance (i.e. boys are not significantly better than girls at science) and also there are no aetiological sex differences (i.e. the same genes/environments influence science performance in boys and girls and influence performance to the same extent).

C.M.A. Haworth, P.S. Dale & R. Plomin (2007). A Twin Study into the Genetic and Environmental Influences on Academic Performance in Science in 9-Year-Old Boys and Girls. International Journal of Science Education. DOI: 10.1080/09500690701324190.
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