EWA Radio

Girls Outscore Boys in the Middle East on Math and Science. But That’s Not the Whole Story.
Amanda Ripley, a New York Times bestselling author, discusses gender gaps and student motivation

When U.S. education experts look overseas for ideas and inspiration, they usually turn to places like Finland and Singapore. But journalist Amanda Ripley recently traveled instead to the Middle East to get underneath some surprising data about gender gaps in a recent story for The Atlantic. More specifically, why do girls in Jordan and Oman earn better grades and test scores than boys, even without the promise of lucrative jobs? Her candid interviews with students and educators reveal major factors for the gender gap include teacher quality, instructional differences for boys and girls, and cultural expectations that influence individual motivation. Along the way, she builds a case that deficits in how these Middle Eastern countries  approach educating boys offer important insights into gender achievement gaps in the  U.S., as well. Ripley (an EWA Reporting Fellow) also shares tips for getting students to speak candidly about their experiences, navigating the complexities of a foreign school system, and ways U.S. reporters might advance conversations about issues of equity, gender, and student motivation. 

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