Gender and Giftedness

Gender and Giftedness
Question: Should we look at different
assessments for boys and girls and
separate developmental stages in
order to screen for gifted services?
What we know:
• In elementary school, females are identified as
gifted at a higher rate than their male
• Over time, male students increase their numbers
in gifted programs.
• By high school, male students outnumber females
in receiving gifted services.
Early identification disparities
• Boys develop slower than girls to the point
that boys develop language skills and large
and small muscle proficiencies at a
developmentally different tempo from girls.
Gender differences
• Girls talk earlier than boys, have larger pre-school vocabularies, and use
more complex sentence structures. Once in school, girls are one to oneand-a-half years ahead of boys in reading and writing. Boys are twice as
likely to have a language or reading problem and three to four times more
likely to stutter. Girls do better on tests of verbal memory, spelling and
verbal fluency. On average, girls utter two to three times more words per
day than boys and even speak faster---twice as many words per minute.
• A growing body of research on these differences points us to a girl brain
built with a language head start. During infancy the left hemisphere (the
brain's language center for most people) develops before the right for
little girls whereas the order is reversed for boys. Even more convincing,
females have at least twenty % more neurons than males in the brain's
Broca area (where we produce language), and they have as much as 18%
more volume in the Wernicke's area (where we interpret language).
Dr. David Walsh, Ph.D.
The corpus callosum portion of the
brain in boys is smaller than in girls
• The corpus callosum is a
group of nerve fibers that
connect the two
hemispheres of the brain.
• This means that the two
hemispheres are extensively
connected in girls to allow a
faster and more robust
exchange of certain types of
information such as
relational information and
information relating to
attributes of objects and
• The result of this is:
• Girls do better than boys in
reading comprehension.
• Perceptual speed
• And word association
Testing gender bias
• Hale & Potok studied the sexual bias in the WISC-R with respect to the
overrepresentation of boys in special education classes. They found that
girls scored five points higher than boys
Looking at IQ tests that tested language abilities, the Northwestern
researchers confirmed that girls outperformed boys overall.
• They found that boys relied more on vision and hearing to make language
judgments, while girls were using more abstract, than sensory, parts of
the brain.
• So what difference does it make in the classroom or life?
• "For girls, it doesn't matter whether you are reading or hearing the
words, the information gets converted into an abstract meaning, an
abstract thought. For boys, the research suggests it's really going to be
very important whether they're hearing or reading words. That is going to
determine how well they're processing the language."
• He said that based on these results, girls may have an advantage in
testing, at least in elementary and middle school. Boys may have more
difficulty with written tests but fare better with oral tests on lectures and
written tests for reading.(Wolinsky, 2008)
Testing Bias
Females tend to perform better than men on tests of perceptual speed, in which subjects must rapidly
identify matching items for example, pairing the house on the far left with its twin:
In addition, females remember whether an object, or a series of objects, has been displaced:
On some tests of ideational fluency, for example, those in which subjects must list objects that are the
same color, and on tests of verbal fluency, in which participants must list words that begin with the same
letter, females also outperform males:
Females do better on precision manual tasks-that is, those involving fine-motor coordination-such as
placing the pegs in holes on a board:
Testing Bias Continued
And females do better than males on mathematical calculation tests:
Males tend to perform better than females on certain spatial tasks. They do well on tests that involve
mentally rotating an object or manipulating it in some fashion, such as imagining turning this threedimensional object
or determining where the holes punched in a folded piece of paper will fall when the paper is unfolded:
Males also are more accurate than females in target-directed motor skills, such as guiding or intercepting
Testing Bias
• Terman found slight bias in favor of girls regarding the
Stanford-Binet intelligence test. (Terman, 1916, pp. 6070).Psychology Today
• An Educational Testing Service (ETS) study found that
males score an average of 35 points higher on the math
part of the Scholastic Assessment Test (SAT) than females,
even when the two sexes get the same grades in their
college math courses. [16] Some observers theorize that
males solve problems with analytical, deductive kinds of
reasoning while females tend to approach them with a
more innovative, open-minded flair that multiple-choice
tests can't capture.(Glaser, 1993)
Gender Disparities in Adolescence
• Gender differences favoring boys appear at
adolescence and increase during the high
school years, but only in areas involving
mathematics problem solving. Since the late
1970’s boys have consistently scored 10%
higher than girls on the math portion of the
J.L. Cook – G. Cook 4/30/14
• Developmental differences in gender, bias
early identification of giftedness against
• Intelligence tests utilized on a large scale, ie.
WISC and Stanford Binet, have shown bias
against males.
• During adolescence there is a shift in
assessments where males are increasing test
• Male students should be tested according to
their developmental stage, with retesting
consideration given to elementary age boys.
• Careful consideration needs to be given to
males when administering Intelligence Tests
with focus on developmental strengths.

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