Around the World, Girls Get Better Grades Than Boys

When psychology professors Daniel and Susan Voyer analyzed the results of over 1 million boys and girls from 30 different nations, they found that girls get better grades across the globe. And it’s true in every subject, including STEM fields. In The Atlantic, Enrico Gnaulati questioned whether our worldwide school systems are set up to favor girls and alienate boys. He brought together studies that speak to the disparity, starting in kindergarten and working up to the college level.

Behaviorally, one study found that girls are better at self-regulation, which directly connects to succeeding in a kindergarten class. According to the hundreds of children tested, boys were an entire year behind girls in all areas of self-regulation. The ability to follow specific instructions and prioritize schoolwork (among other things) helped girls get better grades across all subjects. 

This pattern continues through the college level. Gnaulati writes, “a host of cross-cultural studies show that females tend to be more conscientious than males.” A study by Lindsay Reddington out of Columbia University found that female college students were more likely to “jot down detailed notes in class, transcribe what professors say more accurately, and remember lecture content better.”But where girls excel at mastering subjects and shining in the classroom, many experience stress in test situations, so their results reflect a false sense of their actual abilities. 

Some academics have concluded, “The testing situation may underestimate girls’ abilities, but the classroom may underestimate boys’ abilities.”  Gnaulati argues that school systems should change to better support boys’ learning. If a boy is more likely to forget an assignment at home, should the late assignment really be worth zero? If a class grade is meant to reflect academic performance, should kids really be graded on things like “desk organization”? Expert discipline and organization may be key tools for efficacy in the traditional workplace, but as entrepreneurship grows, maybe we’re better off encouraging disruptive discussion and free-for-all brainstorming, encouraging girls to speak out and allowing for boys’ alternate style of learning.