Sheril Kirchenbaum at her new blog Culture of Science has a post featuring three bar graphs depicting the correct response rate of males and females to three questions on simple scientific topics.  The data (which can be found in Table 7-4 of the National Science Foundation’s Science and Engineering Indicators) shown here comes from the 2008 version (the survey was also conducted in 2001, 2004, and 2006) of a survey done four times over the last four years asking men and women ten questions of scientific relevance, six in the physical sciences and four in the biological sciences.

Physical Science

Respondents were asked six questions regarding the physical sciences.  Five were true or false and the sixth was actually a complex of two questions in which respondents were asked the second question if they answered the first correctly.  Here are the questions with the answers in parentheses

  1. The center of the Earth is very hot. (True)
  2. All radioactivity is man-made. (False)
  3. Lasers work by focusing sound waves. (False)
  4. Electrons are smaller than atoms. (True)
  5. The continents have been moving their location for millions of years and will continue to move. (True)
  6. Does the Earth go around the Sun, or does the Sun go around the Earth? (Earth around Sun)
    How long does it take for the Earth to go around the Sun? (One year)

Here are the percentage of correct responses:

As is pretty clear from the chart, the men noticeably outperformed the women on all four questions.  As will be seen, the results for the biological science questions are more complicated. Continue reading