New Research Finds No Gender Difference in Innate Mathematical Ability

A new study from the University of Chicago has found that there is no difference in the ability to process numbers between young boys and girls. This contradicts the stereotype that boys are innately superior in math and science.

The research was led by Alyssa Kersey, a postdoctoral researcher in the department of psychology at the University of Chicago. She analyzed data in three foundational areas of mathematical cognition during early childhood. Those areas were estimating how many things are in a set, culturally trained counting, and elementary mathematical concepts. The researchers found no major difference in numerical processing between genders.

“Across all stages of numerical development, analyses consistently revealed that boys and girls do not differ in early quantitative and mathematical ability,” the study reads. “These findings indicate that boys and girls are equally equipped to reason about mathematics during early childhood.” The researchers suggest that any differences that show up later in life are likely learned.

Dr. Kersey is a graduate of Indiana University in Bloomington, where she majored in psychology. She holds a Ph.D. in brain and cognitive sciences from the University of Rochester in New York.

The full study, “No Intrinsic Gender Differences in Children’s Earliest Numerical Abilities,” was published in the journal Science of Learning. It can be read here.

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