PROVO, Utah (ABC 4 News) - Girls often fall behind when it comes to crunching numbers. In fact, Utah girls score an average of three points lower than boys on most math exams.
However, Brigham Young University economics professor Joseph Price found girls are just as good at math as boys. His study was just published in the Journal of Economics Behavior and Organization.
Price gave third through sixth graders five different tests.
Results reveal the boys consistently performed better than girls on the first test, but girls performed just as well if not better on tests two through five.
"There is something boys love about a race that causes them to do better or there's something that girls feel uncomfortable about with the time pressure," said Price.
He doesn't have the answer as to exactly why boys perform better on the first test only that they consistently do.
"And now we mostly see that is just another fact of that initial shock with a competition and if you just let them acclimate it's fine," Price said.
The study even hits at why girls fail to do as well as boys during the first test, but do just as well if not outshine the boys on the remaining tests.
Price changed one variable in his study and the results were astounding. "If we told the kids this is not a race this is not a race just do you best. We see the gender gap disappear right from the start," Price said.
Bottom line, the study found boys tend to do better in competitive situations, but with a little encouragement girls do just as well if not better.