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Sex Differences in Mathematical and Spatial Ability

In the United States, there is a dearth of women at the top of mathematically intensive fields. Is this an indicator of a lack of aptitude, perhaps because of biological causes? Or are there fewer women because of sociocultural or historical reasons? This entry describes cognitive sex differences among the highest performers and explores biological and sociocultural explanations. Evolutionary, brain-based, and hormone-based accounts of sex differences in mathematics are inconclusive. Differences in interests clearly exist, but their etiology is unclear. The current sex difference in representation at the top of math-based fields in the United States may not reflect the difference in the number of men and women who are innately gifted in math. It may, instead, largely reflect a combination of a pipeline effect ...

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