Barilka has a theory about why girls’ participation wanes. Middle school turns into a more social environment for girls around seventh grade, she said. They start to care more about what people think and are less willing to put themselves in a situation where they can fail or not have the right answers, she said. Girls start to show an aversion to math and science in middle school, echoed Earle. “It’s cultural,” he said, adding most of the time the girls excel in the fields.