Researchers from MIT found that girls generally are underrepresented in math competitions. Their study uses a new data source, American Mathematics Competitions, to examine the gender gap among high school students at very high achievement levels. According to their study, they looked at gender trends in math competitions and found that peer pressure may be one reason for the gender gap. The highest achieving girls in the U.S. are concentrated in a very small set of elite schools, suggesting that almost all girls with the ability to reach high math achievement levels are not doing so. The implications from this study call for further research in this area of study to explore the drastic gender gap in high achievement levels for math.
Ellison, G., & Swanson, A. (2009). The gender gap in secondary school mathematics at high achievement levels: Evidence from the American mathematics competitions. Cambridge, MA: MIT. http://economics.mit.edu/files/4298