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FRIDAY, Jan. 30, 2015 (HealthDay News) -- Girls tend to get better grades in reading, math and science than boys, according to a new study that challenges the widely held belief that boys do better in these subjects than girls.
"Even in countries where women's liberties are severely restricted, we found that girls are outperforming boys in reading, mathematics and science literacy by age 15, regardless of political, economic, social or gender equality issues and policies found in those countries," study author David Geary, professor of psychological sciences at the University of Missouri, said in a university news release.
The researchers analyzed the grades of 1.5 million 15-year-old students around the world between 2000 and 2010.
They found that girls outperformed boys in reading, math and science in 70 percent of the countries included in the study. These findings held true even in countries where females face severe social restrictions.
Boys did better than girls in only three countries or regions: Colombia, Costa Rica and the state of Himachal Pradesh in India. Girls and boys were about equal in the United States and Englad, the researchers found.
In countries with low levels of gender equality -- such as Jordan, Qatar and the United Arab Emirates -- girls were far ahead of boys in educational achievement, according to the study.
Findings were published recently in the journal Intelligence.
"The data will influence how policymakers think about the options available," Geary said.
"For example, to increase levels of equal opportunities in education. We believe that policymakers and educators should not expect that broad progress in social equality will necessarily result in educational equality. In fact, we found that with the exception of high achievers, boys have poorer educational outcomes than girls around the world, independent of social equality indicators," he said.
-- Robert Preidt
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SOURCE: University of Missouri, news release, Jan. 26, 2015