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In new engineering test: girls rule, boys drool

When boys and girls argue on a playground, it usually gets divided into two gender-loyal factions proclaiming their superiority at certain abilities. Boys will claim sports, anything involving strength, manual labor, maybe problem solving. Girls have the more creative properties: art, fashion sense, sophistication. Right?

No one would ever think of girls bragging about their engineering superiority. But a new study shows that they would have backup—if they chose to.

Eighth-grade girls outscored boys in technology and engineering skills during the first such national test administered by the U.S. federal government in 2014, according to results released on Tuesday (see below).

A recent survey shows off young girls' engineering prowess. —The National Assessment of Educational Progress image

A recent survey shows eighth grade girls’ engineering prowess. — The National Assessment of Educational Progress image

The National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) exam results show that 45% of girls and 42% of boys scored at the proficient level or above. Overall, 43% of eighth-grade students in both public and private schools scored proficient or above.

The computer-based test, called the Technology & Engineering Literacy (TEL), was designed to measure students’ ability to understand technological principles, their collaboration skills, and their ability to solve technology and engineering-related problems. It was administered to more than 21,000 students in over 800 schools nationwide.

The difference in performance between female and male students was especially surprising, according to a report by US News.com, because female students tend to perform equal to or worse than male students on math and science achievement exams. The findings also are striking considering male students expressed far more interest in pursuing engineering and technology than females, according to the 2016 U.S. News/Raytheon STEM Index.

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