Springer Nature is making SARS-CoV-2 and COVID-19 research free. View research | View latest news | Sign up for updates

Cognitive gender differences: A developmental perspective

Abstract

This article reviews the developmental literature on cognitive gender differences and compares past and present trends in gender differences, by age, from the standardizations of the Wechsler Intelligence Scales (1949–1981) and the California Achievement Tests (CAT; 1956–1985). Consistent with prior research, decreases in gender differences were found for adolescents. For children, gender differences were small or nonexistent in the Wechsler and CAT norms from 1949–1985. For adults, notable gender differences were often found on the subtests of the Wechsler scales, and have remained relatively constant over the past generation.

This is a preview of subscription content, log in to check access.

References

  1. Anastasi, A. (1958). Differential psychology (3rd ed.). New York: Macmillan.

  2. Becker, B. J., & Hedges, L. V. (1984). A meta-analysis of cognitive gender differences: A comment on an analysis by Rosenthal and Rubin. Journal of Educational Psychology, 76, 583–587.

  3. Benbow, C. P., & Stanley, J. C. (1980). Sex differences in mathematical ability: Fact or artifact? Science, 210, 1262–1264.

  4. Bennett, G. K., Bennett, M. G., Wallace, W. L., & Wesman, A. G. (1961). College Qualifications Test manual—revised. New York: Psychological Corporation.

  5. Bennett, G. K., Seashore, H. G., & Wesman, A. G. (1947). Manual for the Differential Aptitude Tests. New York: Psychological Corporation.

  6. Bennett, G. K., Seashore, H. G., & Wesman, A. G. (1966). Fourth edition manual for the Differential Aptitude Tests. New York: Psychological Corporation.

  7. Bennett, G. K., Seashore, H. G., & Wesman, A. G. (1974). Fifth edition manual for the Differential Aptitude Tests. New York: Psychological Corporation.

  8. Bennett, G. K., Seashore, H. G., & Wesman, A. G. (1982). Differential Aptitude Tests Form V and W: Administrator's handbook. New York: Psychological Corporation.

  9. Born, M. Ph., Bleichrodt, N., & Van Der Flier, H. (1987). Cross-cultural comparison of sex-related differences on intelligence tests: A meta-analysis. Journal of Cross-Cultural Psychology, 18, 283–314.

  10. CBT/McGraw-Hill. (1985). California Achievement Tests. Monterey, CA: Author.

  11. Clark, W. W. (1958, March). Research findings on mental sex differences and their implications for education: An analysis of sex differences found in mental ability and achievement test results. Paper presented at the Convention of School Administrators, Cleveland, OH.

  12. Cohen, J. (1977). Statistical power analysis for the behavioral sciences (rev. ed.). New York: Academic Press.

  13. Dossey, J. A., Mullis, V. S., Lindquist, M. M., & Chambers, D. L. (1988). The mathematics report card: Are we measuring up? Princeton, NJ: National Assessment of Educational Progress.

  14. Ekstrom, R. B., Goertz, M. E., & Rock, D. A. (1988). Education and American youth: The impact of the high school experience. London: The Falmer Press.

  15. Feingold, A. (1988). Cognitive gender differences are disappearing. American Psychologist, 43, 95–103.

  16. Feingold, A. (1992). Sex differences in variability in intellectual abilities: A new look at an old controversy. Review of Educational Research, 62, 61–84.

  17. Friedman, L. (1989). Mathematics and the gender gap: A meta-analysis of recent studies on sex differences in mathematical tasks. Review of Educational Research, 69, 185–213.

  18. Glass, G. V. (1976). Primary, secondary, and meta-analysis of research. Educational Researcher, 5, 3–8.

  19. Glass, G. V., McGaw, B., & Smith, M. L. (1981). Meta-analysis in social research. Beverly Hills, CA: Sage.

  20. Green, D. R. (1987, August). Sex differences in item performance on a standardized achievement battery. Paper presented at the annual meeting of the American Psychological Association, New York. (ERIC Document Reproduction Service No. ED 291 806)

  21. Hedges, L. V., & Becker, B. J. (1986). Statistical methods in the meta-analysis of research on gender differences. In J. S. Hyde & M. C. Linn (Eds.), The psychology of gender: Advances through meta-analysis. Baltimore, MD: Johns Hopkins University Press.

  22. Hieronymus, A. N., Lindquist, E. F., & Hoover, H. D. (1978). Iowa Tests of Basic Skills, Forms 7 and 8. Chicago, IL: Riverside.

  23. Hilton, T. L. (1985). National changes in spatial-visual ability from 1960 to 1980. (Research Report 85-27). Princeton, NJ: Educational Testing Service.

  24. Hyde, J. S. (1981). How large are cognitive gender differences? A meta-analysis using ω2 and d. American Psychologist, 36, 892–901.

  25. Hyde, J. S., & Linn, M. C. (1988). Gender differences in verbal ability: A meta-analysis. Psychological Bulletin, 104, 53–69.

  26. Hyde, J. S., Fennema, E., & Lamon, S. J. (1990). Gender differences in mathematics performance: A meta-analysis. Psychological Bulletin, 107, 139–153.

  27. Jacklin, C. N. (1989). Female and male: Issues of gender. American Psychologist, 44, 127–133.

  28. Jensen, A. R., & Reynolds, C. R. (1983). Sex differences on the WISC-R. Personality and Individual Differences, 4, 223–226.

  29. Kaufman, A. S., McLean, J. E., & Reynolds, C. R. (1988). Sex, race, residence, region, and education differences on the 11 WAIS-R subtests. Journal of Clinical Psychology, 44, 231–248.

  30. Kimball, M. M. (1989). A new perspective on women's math achievement. Psychological Bulletin, 105, 198–214.

  31. Linn, M. C. (1992). Gender differences in educational achievement. In J. Plfeiderer (Ed.), Sex equity in educational opportunity, achievement, and testing. Princeton, NJ: Educational Testing Service.

  32. Linn, M. C., & Hyde, J. S. (1989, November). Gender, mathematics, and science. Educational Researcher, 18, 17–27.

  33. Linn, M. C., & Petersen, A. C. (1985). Emergence and characterization of sex differences in spatial ability: A meta-analysis. Child Development, 56, 1479–1498.

  34. Linn, M. C., & Petersen, A. C. (1986). A meta-analysis of gender differences in spatial ability: Implications for mathematics and science achievement. In J. S. Hyde & M. C. Linn (Eds.), The psychology of gender: Advances through meta-analysis. Baltimore, MD: Johns Hopkins University Press.

  35. Lubinski, D., & Dawis, R. V. (1992). Aptitude, skills, and proficiencies. In M. D. Dunnette & L. M. Hourgh (Eds.), Handbook of industrial and organizational psychology (2nd ed., Vol. 3). Palo Alto, CA: Consulting Psychologists Press.

  36. Maccoby, E. E. (1966). Sex differences in intellectual functioning. In E. E. Maccoby (Ed.), The development of sex differences. Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press.

  37. Maccoby, E. E., & Jacklin, C. N. (1974). The psychology of sex differences. Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press.

  38. Marsh, H. W. (1989). Sex differences in the development of verbal and mathematical constructs: The High School and Beyond Study. American Educational Research Journal, 26, 191–225.

  39. Martin, D. J., & Hoover, H. D. (1987). Sex differences in educational achievement: A longitudinal study. Journal of Early Adolescence, 7, 65–83.

  40. Matarazzo, J. D. (1972). Wechsler's measurement and appraisal of adult intelligence (5th ed.). New York: Oxford University Press.

  41. Miele, J. A. (1958). Sex differences in intelligence: The relationship of sex to intelligence as measured by the Wechsler Adult Intelligence Scale and the Wechsler Intelligence Scale for Children. Dissertation Abstracts, 18, 2213. (University Microfilms No. 5802129)

  42. Mullis, I. V. S. (1987, April). Trends in performance for women taking the NAEP reading and writing assessment. Paper presented at the annual meeting of the American Educational Research Association, Washington, DC.

  43. National Assessment of Educational Progress. (1985). The reading report card, progress toward excellence in our schools: Trends in reading over four national assessments, 1971–1984. Princeton, NJ: Author.

  44. Rosenthal, R., & Rosnow, R. L. (1975). The volunteer subject. New York: Wiley—Interscience.

  45. Rosenthal, R., & Rosnow, R. L. (1984). Essentials of behavioral research: Methods and data analysis. New York: McGraw-Hill.

  46. Rosenthal, R., & Rubin, D. B. (1982). Further meta-analytic procedures for assessing cognitive gender differences. Journal of Educational Psychology, 74, 708–712.

  47. Schaie, K. W., & Hertzog, C. (1983). Fourteen-year cohort-sequential analysis of adult intellectual development. Developmental Psychology, 19, 531–543.

  48. Shepard, R. N., & Metzler, J. (1971). Mental rotation of three-dimensional objects. Science, 171, 701–703.

  49. Smith, M. L., & Glass, G. V. (1977). Meta-analysis of psychotherapy outcomes. American Psychologist, 32, 752–760.

  50. Stanley, J. C., Benbow, C. P., Brody, L. E., Dauber, S., & Lupkowski, A. E. (1991). Gender differences in eighty-six nationally standardized aptitude and achievement tests. In N. Colangelo, S. G. Assouline, & D. Ambroson (Eds.), National research symposium on talent development. Iowa City: University of Iowa Press.

  51. Thurstone, L. L., & Thurstone, T. G. (1941). Factorial studies of intelligence. Psychometric Monographs, 2.

  52. Tyler, L. E. (1965). The psychology of human differences (3rd ed.). New York: Appleton.

  53. Vandenberg, S. B., & Kuse, A. R. (1978). Mental rotations: A group test of three-dimensional spatial visualization. Perceptual and Motor Skills, 47, 599–604.

  54. Wechsler, D. (1949). Manual for the Wechsler Intelligence Scale for Children. New York: Psychological Corporation.

  55. Wechsler, D. (1955). Manual for the Wechsler Adult Intelligence Scale. New York: Psychological Corporation.

  56. Wechsler, D. (1974). Manual for the Wechsler Intelligence Scale for Children—Revised. New York: Psychological Corporation.

  57. Wechsler, D. (1981). WAIS-R manual: Wechsler Adult Intelligence Scale. New York: Psychological Corporation.

  58. Wilder, G. Z., & Powell, K. (1989). Sex differences in test performance: A review of the literature (College Board Report No. 89-3). New York: College Entrance Examination Board.

  59. Witkin, H. A., Dyk, R. B., & Paterson, H. P. (1962). Psychological differentiation. New York: Wiley.

Download references

Author information

Correspondence to Alan Feingold.

Additional information

I would like to thank Donald Ross Green for providing me with Clark's (1958) paper.

Rights and permissions

Reprints and Permissions

About this article

Cite this article

Feingold, A. Cognitive gender differences: A developmental perspective. Sex Roles 29, 91–112 (1993). https://doi.org/10.1007/BF00289998

Download citation

Keywords

  • Gender Difference
  • Social Psychology
  • Achievement Test
  • Developmental Perspective
  • Present Trend