Gender Differences in Human Cognition

Gender Differences in Human Cognition

Gender Differences in Human Cognition

Gender Differences in Human Cognition

Synopsis

This volume summarises and addresses the validity of research into gender differences, and also raises questions regarding the ideology behind the research.

Excerpt

This contribution to the Counterpoints series is concerned with the issue of whether women and men differ in terms of their intellectual abilities. Women are sometimes said to outperform men in verbal ability, and men are sometimes said to outperform women in mathematical and spatial ability. Are these assertions true? If so, where should one look for the origins of these differences? In the biological makeup of women and men? In influences during childhood? Or in cultural stereotypes? Yet, if these assertions are not true, why do people continue to make them?

In Chapter 1, I set the scene by providing a brief review of the historical development of research into differences between women and men insofar as it is relevant to contemporary discussions regarding actual or potential differences in intellectual abilities. I then describe the various issues that are involved in conducting and evaluating research on differences between men and women, as well as the broad range of theoretical explanations of the findings obtained in such research.

In Chapter 2, Janet Shibley Hyde and Nita McKinley introduce the techniques of meta-analysis, which have been used to integrate the results of studies on the existence and magnitude of differences in the cognitive performance of men and women. Hyde and McKinley review research on verbal, mathematical, spatial, and scientific abilities, and they examine findings from the Study of Mathematically Precocious Youth. They also describe results that suggest that gender differences have been growing smaller over recent decades.

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