Fifteen years ago it was an issue that filled the headlines--that by high school, girls were falling 50 points behind boys on the S.A.T. college entrance exam. Here's part of an ABC story from 1994: A girl in 1994 said, "Every time I see math, I just, I try and stay away from it."
Ned: "What is it about math that you like?"
Romona: "The fact that I understand it, like, sometimes I don't have to study to actually get it, it just comes natural to me."
Researchers looked at the test score of more than seven million kids grades two to 11 and whatever difference there used to be, they're now gone. What's happened? Among other things hi-tech has turned cool with everyone texting and downloading and some people getting very rich. And teachers have been reaching out aggressively to girls, urging them to get in on the action. Suzanne Berliner Hayman from the New Jersey Institute of Technology said, "Being interested in science, engineering and technology does not make you a geek, and as a matter of fact it's the geeks who rule the world."
The result: For the first time, girls are taking math as often as boys. Janet Hyde from the University of Wisconsin said, "I feel like I'm learning a lot more this year. We are not born knowing how to do calculus. And when girls take classes at the same rate as boys we tend to get a narrowing of the gender gap."
Most of America's engineers are still me--but that's changing. Half of the kids who go on to get math degrees are now female.