Why are there so many boys and so few girls in Middle school competitions?

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Why are there so many boys and so few girls in Middle school competitions?

Post by joss1992 » March 20th, 2018, 10:53 am

I have observed this in Seattle area. Same might be true in other regions too. As we went from local competitions to regionals to state, the composition of teams turned more and more towards boys and girls seemed to be either dropping out, or something in the rules or coach's team selection seems to favor boys.

I know for fact this is true in other STEM competitions, but I would like to see my beloved Scioly to move towards gender equality. Would it be helpful to ask schools to select teams that reflect their school's gender ratio? Assuming most schools are 50% boys and 50% girls, it would force the coaches to recruit girls and promote them.

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Re: Why are there so many boys and so few girls in Middle school competitions?

Post by joss1992 » March 20th, 2018, 10:54 am

Sorry about the typo in the title.....

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Re: Why are there so many buys and so few girls in Middle school competitions?

Post by UTF-8 U+6211 U+662F » March 20th, 2018, 10:57 am

Not sure about other regions but I don't see this in my region (southeastern PA)

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Re: Why are there so many buys and so few girls in Middle school competitions?

Post by igotoschool » March 20th, 2018, 10:58 am

My team has 7 boys and 5 girls sooooo...

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Re: Why are there so many boys and so few girls in Middle school competitions?

Post by UTF-8 U+6211 U+662F » March 20th, 2018, 11:00 am

That seems normal if your school is around half and half (around 20% chance of happening randomly)

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Re: Why are there so many buys and so few girls in Middle school competitions?

Post by MissAmargasaurus » March 20th, 2018, 11:48 am

Not the norm for my state I think, but my team actually has a majority of girls!
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Re: Why are there so many boys and so few girls in Middle school competitions?

Post by cool hand luke » March 20th, 2018, 12:28 pm

I went toe to toe with the principal of the school I coach at. (One advantage to not being a teacher/coach)

We have a dedicated STEM elective class for 7th and 8th graders that focuses on competitions. Currently it's about 2/3 boys and 1/3 girls. You have to apply and get approved by the teachers to get in.

The teachers watch the 6th graders closely, not only to figure out who's smart but also who would make a good team mate. then they usually ask the kids they really want to apply.

The difference in gender ratio comes in because dang near 100% of invited boys come, while with girls it's around 50%. we actually tracked this last year, including who was invited. we invited 1 more girl than boy, but only half the girls decided to apply.

I am 100% for any girl that wants to compete to have a chance. I'm 100% against artificial gender quotas. Why is it better to have a girl who doesn't really want to be there as opposed to a boy who really does?

As far as why the gender disparitee exists, I think (and psychiatry and sociology agree) that in general boys are far far far more competitive than girls. We have thousands of years as a species where only the top 45-50% of males reproduced while 95+ percent of females reproduced. Males only got to if they could outcompete the rivals.

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Re: Why are there so many boys and so few girls in Middle school competitions?

Post by Alex-RCHS » March 20th, 2018, 12:51 pm

OP, I'm not sure if your observations carry over everywhere. My team has been about 55-65% girls for three years now. I think more scientific ways to collect data on this would help, because what you describe is pretty anecdotal. (I'm not saying it isn't true that scioly is mostly boys, just that you haven't proven it)
cool hand luke wrote:I am 100% for any girl that wants to compete to have a chance. I'm 100% against artificial gender quotas. Why is it better to have a girl who doesn't really want to be there as opposed to a boy who really does?
I agree with this.
cool hand luke wrote:As far as why the gender disparitee exists, I think (and psychiatry and sociology agree) that in general boys are far far far more competitive than girls. We have thousands of years as a species where only the top 45-50% of males reproduced while 95+ percent of females reproduced. Males only got to if they could outcompete the rivals.
"far far far more competitive" is a stretch, at least at the high school level. When I think of the most competitive and successful olympians I know of, many -- at least half, probably more -- are girls. In my experience, boys and girls tend to show competitiveness in different ways. I think it is true that boys are, on average, slightly more competitive though (perhaps for the reasons you described, and others) but not to an extreme degree.
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Re: Why are there so many boys and so few girls in Middle school competitions?

Post by knottingpurple » March 20th, 2018, 1:02 pm

As a girl who does scioly, I think it's all about support from teachers/parents/other students or not. I can remember a middle school science class where one boy was constantly complimented by the teacher, so when Science Olympiad tryouts happened and our teacher told us one person in our class had made the team, everyone turned around and cheered for him.

And then it turned out that it was somebody completely different, a girl, who had made the scioly team! Can you imagine how demoralizing that must have been for her, to have nobody even consider that she could be good at science, that she might be better than this boy everyone fawned over - and this wasn't just due to her classmates being thoughtless, this was more or less due to her teacher repeatedly pointing out a guy who was good at science! Is it a surprise she never joined the high school Science Olympiad team?

I only tried out for Science Olympiad in high school, at the urging of several girls who'd done it in middle school, and that group of girls has always been there with me making it less intimidating, but still, sometimes last year and the year before I would hear the way the older guys on the team talked about girls and it was also disgusting. If I hadn't had the group of other girls to fall back on for protection, I would have probably quit from the distress of having to listen to that.

Another girl I know who went to Nationals for division B, and is so amazing at science (she made chem camp as a sophomore, she's really good at USAPhO and competition math, all these ridiculously impressive activities), gave up on team competitions in high school, and only competes in solo things (such as USNCO). I haven't specifically asked her why she didn't do Science Olympiad again, but she did tell me her reasoning for not joining our school's ARML team for a second year: the first time she'd done it, she'd been the only girl on the A team and she hated it. It wouldn't be surprising if the gender imbalance of our scioly team also put her off.

Frankly, in my school, it doesn't look like a problem with Science Olympiad specifically. Advanced math courses, beginning in 5th grade, are primarily guys. Advanced science courses, the same. People taking STEM classes at the local university as well. It's not that girls don't want to do this particular science competitions, or competitive science generally - they don't want to do science. Because they've been intimidated and discouraged over and over by the time they even reach middle school.

So yeah. If there's any difference due to intrinsic qualities, it's tiny I think - look at the teams where these gender differences don't exist, or don't exist in the same proportions, or are reversed! But so many people are sexist, whether teammates, teachers, parents, the general media, and I think that puts off girls from wanting to participate in this competition, as in science in general.

I'm sorry if I'm too passionate about this. > . <
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Re: Why are there so many boys and so few girls in Middle school competitions?

Post by Unome » March 20th, 2018, 1:30 pm

I read somewhere that the percentage of boys vs. girls medaling at Nationals is about 50-50 in middle school, but about 70-30 at high school.

As for the teams I've been on, varied from 60% girls to 30%. Although being as small as it is/was, my middle school is far from representative - most of my grade (both overall and in SO) were boys, while the reverse was true for the grade just below
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