Academically talented girls in India surpass boys in language performance, while male students hold an overwhelming advantage in math performance over their female counterparts, a new study has found.
Researchers from the Duke University Talent Identification Programme (TIP) found that girls in the US surpass boys in language performance and are narrowing the gap with their male peers in math achievement.
In both US and India, academically talented boys perform better than girls in science, researchers said.
“The US has made great strides since the 1980s in preparing girls to perform at the highest levels in math, and there may be things that have been done in the US that could help inform education practices in India,” said Matthew Makel, director of research at Duke TIP and lead author of the study.
The findings are among the results of a study of 320,554 gifted seventh graders in the US and 7,119 seventh standard students in India who participated in the Duke TIP talent search between 2011 and 2015.
The talent search identifies academically talented 12- and 13-year-olds and offers them above-level testing, using a standardised test geared towards older students: the SAT or ACT in the US, and the ASSET test in India.
In the US, girls accounted for 28 per cent of top-level scores (SAT 700 and above before turning 13) on the math portion of the talent search test.
This is a significant change from the early 1980s, when girls accounted for just seven per cent of scores at that level, researchers said.
In India, girls accounted for only 11 per cent of top-level scores (35 and above) on the math portion of the ASSET test.
On the language tests, US girls have gradually surpassed boys as the leading performers. In the early 1980s, girls and boys were equally represented among top performers in language, however girls now account for 60 per cent of top SAT language scores.
In India, girls earned 62 per cent of top scores on the language portion of the ASSET test despite the fact that fewer girls participated overall in India.
The researchers noted that girls were significantly underrepresented in the talent search pool in India, making up only 36 per cent of participants in the Duke TIP talent search.