Scientific Literacy by Sex

18 Aug

How long does it take for the Earth to go around the Sun? (One year)

Electrons are smaller than atoms. (True)

It is the father’s gene that decides whether the baby is a boy or a girl. (True)

Data source: NSF Science & Engineering Indicators 2010  (Correct answers from 2008 survey)

11 Responses to “Scientific Literacy by Sex”

  1. Dan! August 18, 2011 at 12:28 pm #

    The results of the first question made me throw-up in my mouth a little bit.

  2. Jamos August 18, 2011 at 2:15 pm #

    I know, right? How did less than %60 of EVERYone get that wrong? I might kill myself.

    • Jamos August 18, 2011 at 2:15 pm #

      wait… get that right. Now I really will kill myself.

  3. Dan! August 18, 2011 at 3:39 pm #

    I actually am pleasantly surprised that over 70% of female respondents knew that a person’s sex is determined by the father’s genes. I have alot of friends that are having children, and there seems to be a constant flow of poppycock from the couples that don’t know the sex of their child yet. Some of them claim they can tell the sex from how active the child is, how the mother is carrying the baby, and some even claim they know the sex because of what the mother has been eating!

  4. David Waldock August 19, 2011 at 5:35 am #

    Why does this actually mean though?

    I argue on my blog that these periodic surveys don’t tell us anything of value. I wonder how knowing any of these issues would affect behaviour in the real world?


  5. The Reluctant Apostate August 20, 2011 at 12:07 pm #

    To be fair, the first bar graph depicts the percentage who correctly answered both that the Earth orbits the Sun and that it takes one year to do so.

    As to David Waldock’s question, I think that the results indicate the variation in interests by sex when in comes to science. In the six physical science trivia questions, men outperformed women noticeably and in the two biological science trivia questions, the tables were reversed and women outperformed men noticeably, whereas in the two more reflective biological sciences questions, the performances of both sexes was essentially the same. That says something about the distribution of areas of focus by sex as it applies to scientific topics.

  6. Art August 20, 2011 at 8:59 pm #

    We are a very dense people. But, just as soon as they perfect that new fangled device, I think they call it a printing press, I think that educating the masses will be easier and everyone will be better informed.

  7. Greg Laden August 22, 2011 at 9:28 pm #

    It started with a comment, then got mixed up in some bad company, and then became a blog post:

  8. Greg M. Johnson June 11, 2012 at 12:31 pm #

    “Excuse me sir, do you have time to tell me if you know the amount of time it takes the earth to revolve around sun?”


Trackbacks and Pingbacks

  1. Scientific Literacy: people aren’t very good at tests they haven’t revised for « David Waldock's Blog - August 18, 2011

    [...] knowledge and they get published about once every three months. One which I noticed earlier was this one, looking at relative levels of scientific knowledge between men and women. Another is this from [...]

  2. Sex Differences In Scientific Knowledge « A Reluctant Apostate - August 20, 2011

    [...] Kirchenbaum at her new blog Culture of Science has a post featuring three bar graphs depicting the correct response rate of males and females to three [...]

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