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Science: Who Does it Better?

A test of 15-year-old students in 65 different countries finds that girls typically do better in science than boys, though not in the United States and a handful of other countries, The New York Times reports. The Times notes in its interactive graphic that in Asian and Northern European countries, girls performed better than boys. Additionally, girls in Eastern and Southern Europe and the Middle East did better than boys, though the students overall had lower scores. In Western Europe and the Americas, though, boys did better than girls.

The Times suggests that culture may influence how students see science and education.

In the US, it says, there is the issue of stereotypes. "We see that very early in childhood — around age 4 — gender roles in occupations appear to be formed," says Christianne Corbett, who co-authored a 2010 report on women in STEM fields. "Women are less likely to go into science careers, although they are clearly capable of succeeding."

In other areas of the world, though, other factors may be at play. "For girls in some Arab countries, education is the only way to move up the social structure," Andreas Schleicher from Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, which administers the test, says. "It is one way to earn social mobility."