Area:    Feminism
  Msg:    #79
 Date:    12-21-94 17:28 (Public) 
 From:    Bill Hillier             
 To:      All                      
 Subject: Brain Sex                
Newsgroups: soc.feminism
Subject: Re: abstract thinking
Date: 16 Dec 1994 18:57:10 -0500
Organization: CCR - Universites Paris VI/VII - Paris - France
Sender: [email protected]
Approved: [email protected]
Distribution: world
I though you may be interested in seeing such a study. What is your
opinion about it ?
[Some days ago I sent an introductory email to soc.feminism to
present the context of this post, but it never appeared and I
never received an explanation for it. Let's hope it get lost..]
"Trends In Neurosciences", Jan 1987, P. 17-19,
Camilla Persson Benbow, Study of Mathematically
Precocious Youth, Department of Psychology, Iowa, USA :
"(...) Gender
A rather controversial and emotional topic is whether extremely high
mathematical reasoning ability is or
is not a biological correlate of an individual's sex. Many studies have
reported sex differences in mathematical aptitude and achievement [1,2].
These studies indicate that sex differences in mathematics do not seem
to occur consistently until after or at puberty and only then in
areas requiring reasoning [2]. More than one major study has, however,
reported differences for seven- to nine-year-olds (Dougherty, K., Herbert,
M., Edenhart-Peper,M. and Small, A., unpublished manuscript). It is
important to emphasize that no sex differences have been found in 
computational ability or the ability to apply already-learned concepts [2].
Sex differences in mathematical reasoning ability have been reported
among highly talented pre-adolescents [3,4]. In those studies, a test of
mathematical reasoning ability (ie SAT-M), was administered to 49 747
gifted pre-adolescents. In the 9 administrations of that test over a
period of 11 years, males have scored consistently higher than females
by approximatively one-half standard deviation [3,4]. Since then more
than 100 000 additional students have been tested across the United
States with similar results, and these findings have been replicated
in other countries as well. Although the consistent mean difference
favoring males has important implications, the significant result is
that the sex difference is especially large among the most talented.
There were many more extremely mathematically talented boys than girls
(e.g. at the top 1 in 10 000 level there are about 12 males for each
female). This large sex difference seems to have important long-term
consequences. [5]
That biological factors may be involved in causing the sex difference
is given credence by the fact that solely environmental explanations
of those results have proven lacking [3,4,5]. For example, among
students who took the mathematical reasoning test, there were no
sex differences in attitudes towards mathematics [5] and course-
taking [4,5]. Additionally, there wasno evidence on the basis of
sex for any differential encouragement by parents for the study
of mathematics [6]."
1 - Deaux, K. (1985), Annu. Rev. Psychol., 36, 49-81
2 - Fennema, E. (1974), J. Res. Math. Ed., 5, 126-139
3 - Benbow,C.P. and Stanley, J.C. (1983), Science, 222, 1029-1031
4 -  id.                          (1980),  id.   , 210, 1261-1264
5 -  id.                          (1982), Amer. Educ. Res. J., 19, 598-622
6 - Fox, L.H., Brody, L. and Tobin, D. (1982) Report to the National 
Institute of Education
Excerpt from 4 
"Huge sex differences have been reported in mathematical aptitude and
achivement [2 above]. In junior high school, this sex difference is
quite obvious : girls excel in computation, while boys excel on tasks
requiring mathematical reasoning ability. (...)
Six separates SMPY talent searches were conducted. In the first three
searches, 7th and 8th graders, as well as accelerated 9th and 10th  
graders, were eligible; for the last three, only 7th graders and accelerated
students of 7th grade were eligible. In addition, in the 1976, 1978, and
1979 searches, the students had also to be in the upper 3 percent in
mathematical ability as judged by a standardized achievement test, in
1972 in the upper 5 percent, and in 1973 and 1974 in the upper 2 percent.
Thus, both male and female talent-search participants were selected by
equal criteria for high mathematical ability before entering. Girls
constituted 43 percent of the participants in these searches.
Table 1. Performance of students in the Study of Mathematically Precocious
Youth in each talent search (N = 9927).
  Test date          Grade          Number                   Percentage
                                                           scoring above
                                 Boys  Girls              600 on SAT - M
                                                           Boys   Girls
 March 1972            7         90     77                  7.8    0.0
                       8+       133     96                 27.1    0.0
 January 1973          7        135     88                  8.1    1.1
                       8+       286    158                 22.7    8.2
 January 1974          7        372    222                  6.5    1.8
                       8+       556    369                 21.6    7.9
 December 1976         7        495    356                  5.5    0.6
                       8+        12     10                 58.3    0.0
 January 1978        7 and 8+  1549   1249                  5.3    0.8
 January 1979        7 and 8+  2046   1628                  3.2    0.9
Emmanuel Marin
[email protected]

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