Sex Differences in Mathematical Abilities
Richard De Lisi
Ann McGillicuddy-De Lisi
This chapter presents a selective review of psychological studies of sex differences in mathematical abilities and achievement conducted from 1990 to 2000. The past ten years were examined because of space constraints and because a few influential papers published around 1990 provided cogent summaries of work up to that time and raised issues that became the focus of work that followed. An overview of these influential papers is presented.
In the 1980s, investigators came to recognize the importance of using precise statistical techniques rather than subjective summaries of published studies to obtain an accurate summary of sex differences research findings. For the most part, these meta-analytic studies came to rely on examining standardized average score differences (d) as the key index to summarize findings across studies. Using this approach, Hyde, Fennema, & Lamon (1990) conducted a meta-analysis of research on gender differences in mathematical performance. They concluded that the average overall effect size for sex differences was near 0; differences favoring male participants were more likely to be found as samples became more selective; and patterns varied somewhat according to the age and constructs sam-