Department of Education’s biased reporting on gender equity
As a follow-up to my earlier post, my AEI colleague Christina Sommers points to these very interesting data on “AP Program Participation and Performance Data 2012.” In its June 2012 report on “gender equity in education,” the Office of Civil Rights (OCR) at the Department of Education has a short section on “AP Enrollment by Gender,” where they report these data points (emphasis added):
1. Girls outnumber boys in enrollment in AP science, AP foreign languages, and several other AP subjects.
2. In AP mathematics (calculus and statistics), however, boys have consistently outnumbered girls by up to 10,000 students.
Here are some AP facts that the Office of Civil Rights conveniently fails to report, probably because it doesn’t fit the narrative of female under-representation/inequality/discrimination, which exist now only in a narrow, and decreasing set of subject areas:
1. Almost 267,000 high school students took “Calculus AB” classes in 2012, so the fact that boys (138,588) outnumbered girls (128,406) by 10,182 is pretty inconsequential. A more honest and accurate representation of the data would be to report that more than 48% of the students taking “Calculus AB” Advanced Placement classes in 2012 were female.
2. For all AP classes in 2012, girls (1,172,624) outnumbered boys (927,324) by 245,300 students, and represented 56% of the high school students taking AP classes.
3. For AP classes by subject in 2012, girls outnumbered boys in 22 out of the 34 AP subject areas.
4. In certain subject areas, girls outnumbered boys in significant numbers: by 206,000 for AP English classes, 56,000 for AP history classes, 32,000 for AP biology classes (a STEM field), 11,300 for AP environmental science classes (another STEM field), 58,000 for AP psychology.
Bottom Line: As I pointed out on the previous post, the OCR’s concern for gender disparities in AP classes seems very limited to STEM areas like math, but they report data in a distorted way (“boys have consistently outnumbered girls taking math AP classes”) that isn’t even totally accurate. And the OCR conveniently fails to report all of the AP subjects where girls outnumber boys by numbers far greater than 10,000, and they fail to report that girls outnumber boys by almost 250,000 in total for all students taking AP classes. And they fail to report the fact that girls outnumber boys even in AP fields like biology, which is a STEM field! In other words, the “statistical disparities prove discrimination” dogma is applied very selectively and inaccurately, and only applies when a statistical disparity favors boys or men.