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Race and Sex Differences in Science Knowledge: Results from Pew Research Science Surveys

Emil O. W. Kirkegaard


Published: 2023/12/01


Substantial gaps exist in measured science knowledge between men and women, as well as between various racial and ethnic groups. In recent years, there has been a focus on two potential problems with this research. First, whether measurement bias accounts for some of the gaps. Second, whether the gaps have been closing. To examine this question, we used data from three waves of Pew Research’s science quizzes with a total sample size of 8,602 (data from 2013, 2015, and 2019). Using differential item functioning tests, we find generally negligible measurement bias in the tests. Random effects meta-analysis of the results showed a male-female gap of 0.52 d, Black-White gap of 1.22 d, and Hispanic-White gap of 0.61 d. Keywords: Science knowledge, Test bias, Sex differences, Race differences

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