A Miami University survey of nearly 2,000 girls in grades 4-8 found they liked science and math less in 8th grade than they did in 4th grade. That's not all: They started out liking social sciences and language arts even less, and similarly lost interest in those subjects as they approached 8th grade.
What does it mean?
Contrary to other studies that seem to show girls are turned off by math and science, "It doesn't seem like girls are losing interest in science and mathematics any more than they lose interest in other subjects," said study co-author Jennifer Blue, assistant professor of physics at Miami.
Blue and Debra Gann, a teacher in Hamilton City Schools, surveyed girls in public and parochial schools in southwest Ohio to find their overall enjoyment of basic elementary and middle-school subjects. The girls were to rank how much they liked a subject on a scale from one (strongly dislike) to five (really like).
Average enjoyment levels in 4th grade were:
4.11 for science
3.85 for mathematics
3.5 for language arts
3.49 for social studies
Gann and Blue were surprised that science and math weren't singled out, but that girls "like science and mathematics as much as other subjects all the way through 8th grade."
They then lose a little interest across all subjects, with science falling to an average likeability score of 3.29 and social studies falling to 2.91, the lowest of the four subject scores in 8th grade.
Why? The researchers aren't sure.
But the good news is that as they become college students, some females regain their interest in sciences: At Miami's Oxford campus, there are more female majors than male in botany, microbiology and zoology.