Data show that males and females in the United States demonstrate a gap in achievement, which can be seen at all ages. The achievement gap widens as age increases for student through post-secondary education. Data has shown over the past 50 years that different genders have been trailing at different times. In the 1970s and 1980s data showed girls behind boys in a variety of academic performance measures, specifically in math and science. However, data in the last twenty years shows the general trend of girls outperforming boys in academic achievement and boys performing worse than they did 20 years ago. Discrepancies in girls and boys achievement can be seen in literacy scores, school engagement, discipline referrals, dropout rates, and college admittance numbers.

In terms of academic performance, data shows that girls are receiving higher grades in the classroom. In 2005, the average grade point average (GPA) of a high school male was 2.86, while that of a female student was 3.09. Both of these GPAs had risen since 1990, and in all years of the High School Transcript Study, females had higher GPAs than males. The gap between males and females has widened since 1990. Female graduates have higher GPAs than males in every core subject (Mathematics, Science, English, and Social Studies).

When it comes to school engagement, more boys participate in school athletics than girls; however, girls outnumber boys in most other extracurricular activities such as student government, fine arts, and club participation.

With regards to school behavior, data shows that boys represent 90% of the discipline referrals and are more than twice as likely to be suspended from school. Boys also make up 70% of the students in Special Ed classes and are currently diagnosed with behavioral disorders such as ADD of ADHD at four times the rate of girls.

Research shows that one in three boys will fail to receive a high school diploma in four years. One in four girls will drop out of high school. For the 2003-2004 school year, it is estimated that 26 percent of all female students dropped out and 34 percent of all male students did. These dropout rates varied with race/ethnicity and location around the country. For the 2003-2004 school year, the 26 percent of all female student dropouts can be broken down by race: 22 percent of whites, 40 percent of blacks, 37 percent of Hispanics, 18 percent of Asian/Pacific Islander and 50 percent of American Indian females did not finish high school in the standard four year period. The percentage of males can be broken down also: 28 percent of whites, 54 percent of blacks, 48 percent of Hispanics, 24 percent of Asian/Pacific Islanders and 56 percent of American Indian male students dropped out of high school. In 2006, 77 percent of all male high school dropouts were employed, compared to 53 percent of female dropouts. The median earnings of males dropouts were $24,698 and the median earnings of female dropouts were $15,520.

A University of Michigan study found that 62 percent of female high school graduates plan on obtaining a degree from a four-year university, compared to only 51 percent of males. There is evidence that more girls are taking AP exams, which determine whether high school students have mastered college curriculum in subjects. In 2002, for example, 54 percent of AP test-takers were female and only 46 percent were male. However, more males took tests in the subjects of calculus, computer science, and other sciences. Girls are also more likely to take the SAT, ACT, or other college entrance exam, but boys are likely to score higher.

Despite the achievement gaps, research does not show that either gender is more intelligent than the other. There are, however, differences in performance in different subjects. Males typically score higher on math and science based tests, while females generally score higher on tests of verbal abilities. International studies suggest that this difference in ability is not solely attributed to innate differences in males and females. The score gap of these tests generally showed males performing high in math and sciences, yet the gap was significantly different throughout the countries. This implies that there are numerous factors influencing educational ability, including, but not limited to, economic, cultural, social, and differences in educational systems and techniques. Research has also shown that individuals who take more high school math and science courses earn higher wages later in life. Fewer boys than girls now study chemistry, geometry and advanced algebra, and about the same number study calculus and trigonometry, according to the National Center for Educational Statistics of the United States Department of Education.

Furthermore, the achievement gap for males and females in mathematics is interesting in the fact that girls typically have better grades in math classes, but tend to score lower on standardized math tests (Dee, 2006). NAEP testing shows that these gaps are practically non-existent at young ages (i.e. elementary school), but that they increase greatly with age (Adeleke, 2007 & Dee, 2006). In fact, differences in NAEP math scores between boys and girls nearly double from the 9-year olds to the 17-year olds tests (Dee, 2007). Other tests that follow the trend for males doing better than females include AP Calculus Exams and the math portion of the SAT (Amelink, 2009). Although there are no physiological differences between males and females to attribute these gaps, research urges that mathematical problem solving abilities can be equally attained, undeterred by gender, given certain circumstances (Adeleke, 2007). To close these gaps, positive attitudes towards mathematics must be encouraged, gender stereotypes must be decreased, and students must have role models and mathematical career options available and prevalent (Amelink, 2009). The biggest challenge of these three criteria is the effect of gender stereotyping in the classroom. Mathematics and science are oftentimes thought of as masculine subjects while English and history are seen as feminine subjects. With this mindset it follows that females often live up to this expectation and do not do as well in mathematics. It is supported by research that gender stereotypes, in turn, decrease mathematical self-esteem among many females and that this leads to anxiety in mathematical exams (Amelink, 2009). The overall achievement gap therefore increases with the age of students because of the gradual decline of self-esteem throughout the grades (Spring, 2010). It follows that when females have role models in the mathematics field and are shown multiple career options for the content, then girls are more likely to succeed and overcome gender stereotyping (Amelink, 2009). Recent data suggests that fifty-five percent of college students are females and 45 percent are males. From 1995 until 2005, the number of males enrolled in college increased by 18 percent, while the number of female students rose by 27 percent. Males are enrolling in college in greater numbers than ever before, yet less than two-thirds of them are graduating with a bachelor’s degree. The numbers of both men and women receiving a bachelor’s degree have increased significantly, but the increasing rate of female college graduates exceeds the increasing rate for males. However, a higher proportion of men (29.4 percent) hold bachelor’s degrees than women (26.1 percent). In 2007, the United States Census Bureau estimated that 18,423,000 males ages eighteen and over held a bachelor’s degree, while 20,501,000 females ages eighteen and over held one. Fewer males held a master’s degree, as well: 6,472,000 males had received one and 7,283,000 females had. However, more men held professional and doctoral degrees than women. 2,033,000 males held professional degrees and 1,079,000 females did and 1,678,000 males had received a doctoral degree, while 817,000 females had.

Although more women are graduating with undergraduate degrees, men are still earning disproportionately more in their lifetimes. This could be due to many factors, including different types of jobs for males and females. Females are greatly underrepresented in science and engineering fields, which are typically correlated with high lifetime earnings. Males and females also have vastly different labor market histories based on type of job and time spent in each job.

A discrimination-based argument for the difference in types of jobs held by men and women is known as the occupational-crowding hypothesis. This argues that women are intentionally segregated into specific occupations. It does not necessarily state that this discrimination comes from male employers. Instead, it suggests that the differences in job types may be a result of the social climate in which young women are taught that certain jobs are "not for girls" and therefore are pushed into "more appropriate" jobs for women. These "appropriate" jobs for women would include those that are largely dominated by females i.e. teaching, maids, bank tellers, receptionists, and child care workers. Occupations that are male dominated include carpenters, truck drivers, architects, lawyers, police, and physicians. Because females are “crowded” into a small number of jobs, the wage is driven down and a gender wage gap is thus created.

A different explanation for the difference in job types suggests that women rationally choose certain jobs and avoid others. This human capital model provides a "supply-side" explanation. Some jobs, and in particular many female-dominated jobs, do not require a frequent update of skills, whereas other occupations do. Women who choose to spend time in the household sector would choose jobs with less skill updating requirements in order to maximize their lifetime earnings. These jobs imply that should a person return to the workforce after spending time in the household sector, his or her wages would not be significantly depreciated due to lost time in the labor market.

At present, the average female wage is 77 cents to each dollar that a male earns. This wage gap may be due to discrimination, differences in innate ability and skills, varying preferences, experience in the labor market, differences in hours worked, or another explanation.

**Gender Gap in Literacy**

There has been a gender gap in reading and writing tests between boys and girls.

According the 2004 National Reading Assessment measured by the US Department of Education, the gap between boys and girls, only slightly noticeable in 4th grade, left boys 14 points behind girls during their 12th grade year. On the 2008 test, female students continued to have higher average reading scores than male students at all three ages. The gap between male and female 4th graders was 7 points in 2008. By 12th grade, there was an 11 point gap between males and females.

On the 2002 National Writing Assessment, boys scored on average 17 points lower than girls in 4th grade. The average gap increased to 21 points by 8th grade and widened to 24 points by senior year in high school. In the more recent 2007 National Assessment of Writing Skills, female students continued to score higher than male students, though margins closed slightly from previous assessments. The average score for female eighth-graders was 20 points higher than males, down 1 point from the 2002 score. For twelfth-graders, females outscored males by 18 points as opposed to 21 points in 2002.

**Gender Gap in Mathematics**

There has been a gender gap in national mathematics tests between boys and girls.

The achievement gap for males and females in mathematics is interesting in that girls typically have better grades in math classes, but tend to score lower on standardized math tests. NAEP testing shows that these gaps are practically non-existent at young ages (i.e. elementary school), but that they increase greatly with age. The differences in NAEP math scores between boys and girls nearly double from the 9-year olds to the 17-year olds tests. Other tests that follow the trend for males doing better than females include AP Calculus Exams and the math portion of the SAT. Although there are no physiological differences between males and females to attribute these gaps, research urges that mathematical problem solving abilities can be equally attained, undeterred by gender, given certain circumstances. It is proposed that to close these gaps, positive attitudes towards mathematics must be encouraged, gender stereotypes must be decreased, and students must have role models and mathematical career options available and prevalent. The biggest challenge of these three criteria is the effect of gender stereotyping in the classroom. Mathematics and science are oftentimes thought of as masculine subjects while English and history are seen as feminine subjects. With this mindset it follows that females often live up to this expectation and excel only in the liberal arts. It is supported by research that gender stereotypes, in turn, decrease mathematical self-esteem among many females and that this leads to anxiety in mathematical exams. The overall achievement gap therefore increases with the age of students because of the gradual decline of self-esteem throughout the grades. It follows that when females have role models in the mathematics field and are shown multiple career options for the content, then girls are more likely to succeed and overcome gender stereotyping.

At least one study has challenged the existence of the gender gap in mathematics. In 2008 Janet Hyde and others published a study showing that male and female students did equally well on No Child Left Behind standardized tests. Hyde believes that the SAT score gap may be due to bias sampling.

**Gender Gap in Physics**

There is a significant gender disparity in both achievement and professional representation in physics.

**Achievement**

Results indicate that more females participate in Advanced Placement science and mathematics courses yet are not performing as well. Males score higher on SAT math and science Achievement tests with the differences ranging from 33 points in biology to 59 points in physics. Neither studies on biological-based differences nor studies on learning and socialization issues have produced unequivocal evidence to support the disparities in achievement but that does not stop various people from voicing their opinions. At a 2005 economic conference Harvard University President Lawrence Summers stated that decreased female performance in mathematics and science had to do with “innate ability” in the academic fields. There have been conflicting studies showing that interactive engagement techniques can eliminate and have no effect on the gender achievement gap in college introductory physics courses. A Harvard study on interactive engagement techniques in calculus based introductory physics classes for non majors found that the gender achievement gap completely disappeared with the integration of interactive engagement classes. A similar study was done at the University of Colorado but found that interactive engagement techniques did not eliminate the gender achievement gap and stated that the gap exists due to differences in previous physics and math knowledge and incoming attitudes and beliefs.

**Representation**

Women face several barriers when going into physics including expectations to society, image of physicists (nerdy and geeky), few visible female role models, ideas of parents, teachers, and neighbors, family responsibilities including children, and covert or overt discrimination or harassment. Additionally physics has an image problem of not being associated with having an impact on people’s lives. As of 2006 women make up 47% of high school students taking physics, 21% undergraduate degrees in physics, 17% PhD recipients, and 6% of full professors.