Education

No gender differences in early math cognition

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Science  03 Aug 2018:
Vol. 361, Issue 6401, pp. 464-465
DOI: 10.1126/science.361.6401.464-a

Young girls and boys perform equally well in tests of intrinsic mathematical ability.

PHOTO: THOMAS KOEHLER/CONTRIBUTOR/GETTY IMAGES

Men are overrepresented in STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) fields. One proposed reason is that men hold an intrinsic advantage over women in mathematical cognition. If such an intrinsic difference exists, it should be present early in child development. To address this question, Kersey et al. examined data from more than 500 children ranging in age from 6 months to 8 years across several tests of numerosity, counting, and elementary mathematics concepts. The authors found no differences in mathematical performance between boys and girls in any of the ages tested. These data provide some of the strongest evidence yet that differences in STEM representation are unlikely to be due to intrinsic differences in cognitive ability.

NPJ Sci. Learn. 10.1038/s41539-018-0028-7 (2018).

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