In almost all countries, far fewer women than men choose promising professions such as math, physics, engineering and computer. This is not to say that girls and women are not good at math, and that mathematical performance is not good. Although boys tend to perform better than girls in math tests, the average gender difference is small. A study published in PNAS suggests that the answer to the question may actually lie in differences in academic ability between men and women, but that the academic ability of the gender difference is language reading, not math.
Studies have consistently shown that girls and women are better than men in language reading and writing. Women may also be better at learning to master foreign languages. The researchers compared each student’s reading and math scores and found that the “difference score” accurately predicted how likely a student was to continue with math. If students have a greater reading advantage, the less likely they are to plan their careers in math, even if they do well in math.