Gender gap in spatial abilities depends on females’ role in society
Ars Technica, August 30, 2011
One of the issues that has prevented the full participation of females in math and the sciences is the persistent belief that males have innate math skills that are superior to those of females. Even as studies show that the math gap disappears in countries with greater gender equality, it seems to persist in higher education, which allows it to be transmitted to new generations.
But, even as basic math skills have evened out in many countries, differences in spatial reasoning abilities have not followed as quickly, even in places like Sweden and Norway, where math skills are now equal. This raises the prospect that there is some biological difference between the sexes—it just isn’t basic math. A new study in PNAS, however, suggests that spatial reasoning differences may also be the product of society.