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Is it true that guys are better than girls at Physics?

  1. Dec 19, 2003 #1
    Konnichiwa minna!

    Well I'm just curious as to whether guys are better than girls at physics naturally. Or is it a mere mindset? Can girls ever lead in the field of physics?

    Just want to hear from you!

    Love, Miyuki.
     
  2. jcsd
  3. Dec 19, 2003 #2
    Girls can be just as good at physics as guys. It just happens there are more guys than girls (at my university anyway).
     
  4. Dec 19, 2003 #3

    HallsofIvy

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    Not that I've noticed. The two best physicists I've ever known were black women.
     
  5. Dec 19, 2003 #4
    I think the average female physicist is most likely 'better' (whatever that may mean) than the average male one. In my opinion this is just because women are discouraged to study physics. This means that they feel they have to be quite good at it before they could ever risk such a socially unaccepted undertaking. Resulting: only the best females study physics, while any average guy does it too (I know, I did!).
     
  6. Dec 19, 2003 #5

    ShawnD

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    I would definitely say guys on average are better at physics. That doesn't mean that women can't do physics though. In my grade 12 physics class, the highest mark went to a girl, she had the highest physics mark for the semster. She also won the award for the highest math mark of the semester and she won the award for the highest chemistry mark the semester prior.
    My physics class was almost 30 students; only 2 girls by the end. Wow. Right now I'm in mechanical engineering (which is almost entirely math and physics) and there are 3 girls IN THE ENTIRE PROGRAM; that's for ALL YEARS. That's out of like almost 200 students.
     
    Last edited: Dec 19, 2003
  7. Dec 19, 2003 #6

    jimmy p

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    I wouldnt say that either sex was better at the subject. Obviously there are studies on which subjects each sex is more adept at. The reason there seem to be more males than females in physics is that usually it is a more male subject. There is a lot of engineering and things like that in physics and usually girls arent interested. HOWEVER there are women in those fields of work and usually they DO excel.
     
  8. Dec 19, 2003 #7
    QUOTE:
    There is a lot of engineering and things like that in physics and usually girls arent interested

    This is a common misconception about women and math/hard science. They are interested, but women are generally socialized (in the west, where I have my experience) to not go into hard science fields unless it involves the so called "caretaker fields"- Medicine, Nursing and Teaching. In fact there are serveral large movements to help encourage women to go into physics, ie programs by AAPT, AIP and the APS. I think that suyver pinned it down well. Read his post.
    Cheers,
    Norm
     
  9. Dec 19, 2003 #8

    Chi Meson

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    From a teacher's perspective, many girls when faced with the first "B" of their high school careers will drop out of physics because it is not a graduation requirement. Guys do this too, but many more guys will "stick it out," for a B. I think because of the stigmas that have been mentioned already, girls are socially expected to not "get it" and the first sign of difficultly is more likely to be thought of a proof that they can't.

    Of my top five best students of all time, two have been girls, so I am certain that there is no genetic "wiring" that determines ability for physics.
     
  10. Dec 19, 2003 #9

    ShawnD

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    I don't know if it is "accepted more" or anything like that for them to fail. In my engineering group, the 2 girls in class simply don't understand a lot of the stuff. Things like how the direction of force changes when you change what you are looking at. Things like keeping the same value for a force even though it's in a different direction. One of the girls has already failed so now we're down to 2 girls for the whole program.
     
  11. Dec 19, 2003 #10
    ohyao gozyamusen

    no that's a fallacy.
     
  12. Dec 19, 2003 #11
    I think girls can be as good as boys in physics, maths and engineering. Some girls graduated from my secondary school got first honor in engineerings.

    Madame Wu Chien-Shiung was one of the most famous experimental physicist. I'm sure this is one of the many examples that female can lead in the field of physics.
     
  13. Dec 19, 2003 #12
    I think that it isn't just as simple as "Women are bad at physics." Some of the best physics minds are women. I think it has more to do with the way women and men percieve the world. Men tend (that means not all do!) to look at the world in a materialistic fashion, and the Idea of physics just generally appeals to most of them more than women. The classical example is that generally men are interested in objects, while women are interested in people. The physical and scientific view is a more tangible view than most women would perfer to take.

    Also, it has been shown, (mostly through SAT scores) that men tend to understand and score better in math, while women tend to score better in writing. This applies because there is an immense deal of math in physics.
     
  14. Dec 20, 2003 #13
    From Gender and Sex roles:
    Other information: http://course.wilkes.edu/psy331/stories/storyReader$32
     
  15. Dec 20, 2003 #14
    According to Professor Rushton (http://www.ssc.uwo.ca/psychology/faculty/rushton.html), on average, men score better on visio-spatial/mathematical tests, and he has also found that men, on average, have slightly more brain neurons after adjusting for body mass. He believes these extra neurons give men a boost in analytical thinking. So, though many women can be good at physics, men will produce a larger amount of physicists/scientists due to brain biology.
     
  16. Dec 20, 2003 #15
    I think the "more neurons" information is a little misleading, having more neurons has nothing to do with analytical thinking. The reason why men are better visual-spatial thinkers because they have what are called "compartmentalized" brains. By "compartmentalized", it a male's brain have fewer fibers (called the corpus callosum) connecting the 2 hemispheres (the reason why there are fewer connections is due to higher concetrations of whatever neuro-chemical I cant seem to remember of the top of my head).

    What this means is that the 2 hemisperes of a woman's brain communicate with each other better. Because they communicate better, women will recognize faces better and faster, but men's compartmentalized brains will recognize shapes better and faster (i.e. better visual-spatial skills).

    Here's some information on Compartmentalized brains of men and women.

    There are some interesting studies involving what happens when the corpus callosum is cut (which means the 2 hemispheres of the brain can no longer communicate with one another... when the corpus callosum is cut, it is called "split-brain syndrome"). See Split-brain Experimentation for information or you can read this thread on the JREF boards.
     
    Last edited: Dec 20, 2003
  17. Jan 21, 2004 #16
    Of course!

    The preponderance of evidence suggests that extreme levels of intelligence (genius) tends to be more common in males than females. As a simple example, check the list of nobel prize winners.
    Also look at the number of 'significant' publications, patents, inventions and discoveries happening on a daily basis. to this day, it would seem that, at least in certain areas, women are yet to prove themselves.
    Another simple exercise. Search on google and make a list. Name a hundred women who have made significant contributions in any area like physics, mathematics or engineering. It will be an effort. Naming a hundred or a thousand men in these areas is no trouble.

    In a politically correct world where people are afraid to stereotype , it would not be appropriate to say oughtright that in general women tend to be worse off in certain areas of intelligence. However, to ignore the difference and pretend that everything is equal would be silly too.
     
  18. Jan 21, 2004 #17
    Re: Of course!

    Historical reference is simply evidence of the Historical Bais that was in the teaching, back then....can't expect the entire world to change in a day, now can we...
     
  19. Jan 21, 2004 #18
    Re: Of course!

    If this counts as evidence, then I can easily prove that white men are obviously far more intelligent than any other demographic of people. After all, there's always been equal opportunity for every human throughout history, right?
     
  20. Jan 21, 2004 #19

    selfAdjoint

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    There is strong evidence that the IQ distributions for men and women have equal means (they are constructed to do so), but different standard deviations. In pictures, the curve for women has a narrower and higher bulge than the one for men, and the tails for the women's curve are skinnier than the ones for men.

    This means that more men than women will be represented both at the highest levels and at the lowest. In Nobel Lauriates and in Death Row inmates.
     
  21. Jan 22, 2004 #20

    Monique

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    Re: Of course!

    OHCOMMON!! Just how long have women been oppressed by men? Just when were we given the opportunity to find a job? Just when has it become socially acceptible for a female to work while raising a family?

    Just who are winning the nobel prizes and have worked their way up to significant positions where they can make great impact? People who have been around for a while in the field of science: from a time that women couldn't even THINK about going into technical fields.

    You know it was not too long ago that even here in The Netherlands a female couldn't apply for renting a house on her own? Only males could apply. That is one generation above me.

    Apparently you are not male by your own criteria, ever heard of biases in measurement? Why are there few females in science, one: because they are not smart enough, or two: because society dictated it.
     
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