Turns out, men's superb mathematical abilities might be all in their heads. A new study published in the journal Sex Roles reveals that men tend to to think they’re better at math than they actually are. Women, on the other hand, tend to offer much more accurate assessments of their mathematical abilities. When researchers presented participants with math tests and then had them predict how many problems they had solved correctly, men tended to overestimate their scores, whereas women's guesses were right on the money.
The study offers some interesting insights into the ongoing discussion about women's underrepresentation in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics. While women in the U.S. comprise 48 percent of the country's workforce, they only hold 24 percent of STEM jobs. Researchers suggest that this gender gap in STEM fields may in part be because of men's tendency to believe they have a knack for the subjects, which in turn encourages them to pursue a career in the field. If men's overconfidence is indeed part of the equation, researchers say that women may benefit from adopting a similar "positive illusion."
Who knew a miscalculation could be the secret to success in math.
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