In elementary schools, high schools and colleges, female students are doing as well as males in most areas of educational attainment and achievement, according to a recent report. Many of the achievement gaps that existed 30 years ago have been eliminated or reduced, the report said.

The report, “Trends in Educational Equity for Girls and Women,” was compiled by the Washington, D.C.-based National Center for Education Statistics and uses statistical indicators to examine the extent to which males and females have access to the same educational opportunities, avail themselves of those opportunities, perform at similar levels and succeed at similar rates.

The report found that females outperform males on reading and writing assessments in the fourth-, eighth- and twelfth-grades. Throughout their elementary and secondary education, females are less likely than males to repeat grades and seem to have fewer problems that put them at risk.

Though females’ performance in math is generally thought to be lower than that of their male peers, the report found few consistent gender differences over the years.

In addition, young women are more likely than young men to attend college immediately after high school and they account for the majority of undergraduate enrollment and the majority of bachelor’s degree recipients.

Gender differences in college majors still persist, the report found, with men dominating engineering, physics and computer science programs, and women are still underrepresented in professional programs such as medicine, law, dentistry and theology.

Another thing to cheer about: An international women’s soccer star from Mexico, Maribel Dominguez, confirmed Wednesday that she has been signed to Celaya, a top team in Mexico’s second-highest professional soccer league. The 26-year-old’s contract will take effect as soon as soccer’s international governing body, FIFA, approves her spot on the team, Mexican officials said.

For more information:

National Center for Education Statistics–
Trends in Educational Equity of Girls and Women:

U.S. Department of Investigation, Federal Bureau of Investigation–
FBI Releases Preliminary Crime Statistics for January–June 2004:

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The number of rapes in the United States increased in the first half of 2004, the FBI reported Monday.

Overall, violent crime decreased 2 percent between January and June, according to the FBI’s preliminary crime report, based on information from nearly 11,000 law enforcement agencies around the country. This drop is in line with an overall drop in violent crime in the nation over the past few years.

But rape increased 1.4 percent during that period, as compared to the same period in 2003, the report said. The jump was even bigger in the country’s largest cities, with a 6.5 percent increase.

Law enforcement agencies in all four regions of the country showed increases in the volume of forcible rapes, the report said.

Another unsettling crime study released recently focused on intimate partner homicide in New Mexico. The study was conducted by Sandra Gardner, Gov. Bill Richardson’s appointed domestic violence czar, who examined the cases of women killed by their partners from 1993 to 2000.

Gardner found that when men were convicted in those cases, only one quarter received life sentences. The rest received an average 11-year sentence and were often back on the streets within about five-and-a-half years.

Gov. Richardson appointed Gardner in July, pledging the state government would work to institute tougher penalties for domestic violence offenders and expanded treatment and resources for victims.

— Robin Hindery and Theresa Braine.