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The great gap between women and men in mathematics

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The great gap between women and men in mathematics

THE State or Saber tests are taken by 11th grade students in the country, and are a requirement to finish and certify secondary school studies. The test, which is considered one of the oldest and most complete in the world, has been applied uninterruptedly for 53 years.

This state exam evaluates the basic areas: mathematics, language, social sciences and natural sciences, plus knowledge in a second language, citizenship skills and for decades it has had other areas of qualification. The test is carried out twice a year, the first in March for students who take calendar B, that is, they finish the school year in July, and the largest number of students take it in September, for students from calendar A who finish the course in December.

In addition, with some interruptions, since the beginning of the 21st century, the third, fifth, and ninth Saber tests have also been carried out to assess the progress of students in the training processes.

Consultants from the Icfes (Colombian Institute for the Promotion of Higher Education) who has been in charge of the test, took the results of the third, fifth, ninth and eleventh grades to review the trends and gaps that appear between the groups that have presented the proof.

Some of the evidence is that in third grade boys and girls have almost identical results in mathematics, but as the tests progress, it begins to be noticed that boys are having better results than girls and in each grade that gap becomes more evident.

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According to David Cañizares, from Icfes, “it is observed that the performance in mathematics of both genders for third grade does not have significant differences, already in fifth grade there is a difference in favor of boys and in the ninth grade test the difference is very marked” .

When students take the Saber 11 Test, the difference is greater, with each man who obtains 100 math points, a woman reaches 93. This result to enter the university becomes a barrier for women to access programs STEM, that is to say science, technology, engineering and mathematics.

This reason may explain why women continue to be a minority in programs such as engineering, economics, architecture or accounting. And why the salary income gaps between men and women continue.

The question to reflect on is, what causes these gaps to increase when in the first years it does not occur. There may be several causes, but one may have to do with gender roles, that is, how from childhood women are oriented to develop roles that are considered feminine and how mathematics is still thought of as a hard area of ​​knowledge. .

Problems can arise from family roles at home. When parents give their daughters interactive games, accounting skills or mathematical knowledge. Generally the games that are given to children include these activities. That is, ideally, girls should receive fewer dolls and more games that help improve their thinking and math skills.

Some experts recommend that some of the strategies that can be used for girls to improve their math skills can be playing soccer, playing board games like chess, and promoting reading among women.

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Besides, the This situation is more critical because in the Pisa Tests, Colombian women are among those with the lowest results compared to women from other countries. For example, it is surprising that the women with the best results are those from Saudi Arabia, Qatar and the United Arab Emirates, that is, that issues such as discrimination against women living in these countries is not an indicator of their poor performance. This implies further work to determine what happens to Colombian women, the roles they assume and their progress in mathematical knowledge.

A challenge that requires the collaboration of families, schools and universities, to seek to close the gaps in knowledge between men and women in the country.

*Specialist in Education

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