Intel Innovation  |  March 2009
Dispelling the Common Myth: Boys are Not Better Than Girls in Math and Science
When asked what a typical computer programmer or engineer might look like, many visualize a young, white male. And to some extent, it would be a fair assessment. Studies have shown that less than one-third of women earn their bachelor’s degrees in Computer Science and that number has decreased since 1984. Studies also say that Women account for only three to five percent of senior management positions in technology companies.

The growth of women in technical roles starts with science and math in primary and secondary schools. Despite many common myths about boys excelling in math and science, according to the Trends in International Mathematics and Science Study (TIMSS*), girls are closing the gender gap across the globe in math and science test scores.

In fact, half of the countries studied show no difference in test scores between boys and girls. In the other half, girls did better in a quarter of the countries as did boys in the other quarter. In the U.S., while boys did do slightly better in fourth-grade math, the gender gap disappeared by eighth grade.

These results are not shocking at all to those judging the Intel Science Talent Search. Intel Science Talent Search is an annual competition to identify the nation’s most promising scientists of the future and celebrate the best and brightest young minds as they compete for one of the most prestigious honors bestowed on high school seniors in the United States.

Every year, more than 1,600 high school seniors enter the Intel Science Talent Search with original research projects from a range of mathematical, engineering and scientific disciplines. This field of entrants is narrowed to 300 semifinalists and then to 40 finalists who travel to Washington, D.C. every March to compete for more than $500,000 in awards and scholarships. In addition, a total of $300,000 is awarded among the schools of the 300 semifinalists to support their science and math resources.

In last year’s competition Miss Shivani Sud of Durham, N.C. took top honors for her bioinformatics and genomics project that focused on identifying stage II colon cancer patients at high risk for recurrence and the best therapeutic agents for treating their tumors. Shivani placed first among 1,602 applicants to win a $100,000 scholarship from the Intel Foundation.

And the good news continues. Announced last month, 40 percent of this year’s 300 Intel Science Talent Search semifinalists are girls. We wish them all the best of luck!
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