Spatial and Mathematical Ability

Spatial and Mathematical Ability Differences
Spatial and Mathematical Ability Differences
Sex difference has over the years been linked with cognitive and an affective
predictor of both spatial and mathematical abilities. There is a growing concern in the United
States over its ability to maintain its status as the leading science and technology status owing
to the scarcity of highly experienced scientists and mathematicians. Furthermore, their
situation is complicated further due to the growing disproportion in the labor force. A case in
which women are unequally represented in the Science, Technology, Engineering, and
Mathematics (STEM) careers (Moss-Racusin, Dovidio, Brescoll, Graham, & Handelsman,
2012). Most of the research conducted to point out early education stages as the cause of
these disparities (Muller, Stage, & Kinzie, 2001; Sanchez & Wiley, 2010).
According to (Meece, Wigfield, & Eccles, 1990), gender disparities in cognitive and
affective factors shown in mathematics performances originate in middle school to which
they later affect future STEM careers. Another explanation given by (Spelke, 2005a) on the
gap in STEM careers is the fact that there are few women displaying the talents required in
the field. Finally, the sex disparities in Spatial and mathematical differences can be attributed
to the genetic base affecting a smaller intrinsic attitude in these subjects by women.
Biological differences in men and women in the field of science and Mathematics has been
extensively researched on, and this paper seeks to show the extent to which gender
differences affect academic performances in mathematics and science fields.
To properly understand the differences in spatial and mathematical ability influences,
we need to understand the dynamics of the cognitive and affective process that may correlate
performances in girls and boys. It is imperative to understand how academics are affected by
the gender differences across different age groups from school going students to college
students. Despite advances in the modernized western world, social, cultural influences still
act as a perception of the role of gender difference and gender roles. Both men and women
distinguish themselves by psychological and behavioral predisposition linked with biological
functions. Due to this factor, women and men react differently towards certain tasks and have
a difference in choices made. To this effect, masculinity and feminism come into play leading
to different behaviors which widen the disparities found in academics. This has created
numerous stereotypes believing men are more superior to women in STEM careers and life
generally as shown in an article by (Fradera, 2017).
In her research, (Marini & Greenberger, 1978) indicate that one of the major
influences in sex difference is the social and cultural variations. She reveals that biological
differences in men and women play a part in their behaviors and roles. However, the major
contributors are social aspects. This is supported by (Baker & Jones, 1993) who indicates the
social arrangement has created a thinking based on cognitive abilities for men and women
which compound to the notion to which men and women are limited to certain tasks.
Consequently, these beliefs have led to a superiority for men over women which
extends to spatial and mathematical studies. Teachers will tend to treat boys and girls in
different proportions when teaching mathematics and sciences. It is due to these factors that
men have found themselves performing much better than women in classroom settings.
Teachers tend to focus more on the boy child as opposed to the girl child thus allocating more
resources and time on them (Baker & Jones, 1993). Similarly, teachers will give girl students
the notion that failing in mathematics and sciences is okay as they can perform better in other
subjects. Ultimately, it creates a social constraint to which men become superior in sciences
and mathematics fields and the resulting STEM careers.
The education system has been influenced by the societal constraints and has led to
the encouragement of women being encouraged to take up subjects and courses that align
with nurturing careers such as nursing, secretarial or teaching. Such careers are related to the
perceived society roles for women which is to take care of their families. Meanwhile, the men
are left to occupy scientific and technological fields as they are regarded intellectually
superior to handle complex mathematical and scientific problems and lead the way in
innovativeness (Hoffman, Gneezy, & List, 2011). Despite these, there has been a decrease in
this disparity between genders in the recants year. There is still a long way to go to change
these differences as there still exist gender stratification even in the high school level
(Entwisle, Alexander, & Olson, 2004a; Leahey & Guo, 2001).
In research to prove the extent of gender differences found in mathematics
capabilities especially in reasoning and geometry, (Leahey & Guo, 2001) reveals that there is
an advantage for boys attending college. In the research, boys were found out to perform
better than girls in mathematics in high school and college levels. High school mathematics
has been researched on due to its importance in academic choices in college which ultimately
affect career professions. In fact, boys performed better in high school mathematical SATs
than their counterparts. Likewise, the American College Test mathematics is well performed
by the boys. Leahey also reveals that the gender difference in mathematical performance has
affected the occupational segregation and the gender socialization found in the American
public sector.
(Entwisle, Alexander, & Olson, 2004b) Argues that the inequalities experienced faced
in schools have caused the career and profession disparities in the country. They offer an
insight into these differences by attributing it to the experiences faced by both boys and girls
creating the differences in mathematics performance. In general, they state that the school
environment is responsible for the subject disparities. They provide evidence based on a
comparison between elementary and high school experience and the level of influence from
teachers, parents, other students, and the administration. Parents are guilty of pressuring their
children to take on specific subjects in school while influencing their choices in career. As
noted earlier, teachers are also responsible for the disparities in science and mathematics
performances while peer pressure from other students has attributed to students choosing
these subjects and their resultant performances.
Continuing from (Entwisle et al., 2004a) research, it goes to show that experiences
from the school and the neighborhood resources have a direct correlation towards student’s
mathematical capabilities. The authors reveal that environmental factors attribute to these
disparities stating that boys are more responsive to neighborhood resources than the girls, that
is, they develop various skills. These skills help boys to develop mathematical competency
that girls would find hard to apply. The time spent by boys in the said neighborhoods creates
a gap between them and the girls thus growing from the surroundings than the girls. The
society seems to pen up more for the boys to explore while limiting the girl's opportunities.
Supporting this notion is (Deutsch, 2007; West & Zimmerman, 1987) who explains
that the social culture has allowed boys to explore the environment more than the girls fully.
Traditionally, boys have had a better exploration of the surrounding environment that has
helped them develop spatial and mathematical abilities over the years. To fully exploit spatial
abilities, one has to practice more often, and exploration of the surroundings can only
improve on this. On the other hand, girls are limited to such opportunities and are confined to
their homes which limits their abilities to perform well in spatial and mathematical subjects.
(Leahey & Guo, 2001) Share the same perspective on the difference in mathematical
capabilities in women and men. They support that men have an environmental advantage
over women in spatial and mathematical skills.
Another explanation towards the disparities is the cognitive differences between
genders. The cognitive differences found in men and women seem to benefit men more in
their application in mathematics than in women. These cognitive abilities allow men to have
a better focus on objects which enables them to gain knowledge of mechanical systems easily
(Spelke, 2005b). Spelke also believes that men have a superior spatial reasoning and
mathematical capabilities than women. Also, the variability of male cognition attributes to the
superiority in mathematical abilities.
Another reasoning behind the abilities in men to perform better in mathematics is due
to the predisposition to have an early mechanical interaction with objects. In women, this
inclination tends to lead them to learn about the emotional interaction in people. A feat that
can be seen during the early school life as opposed to during infantry. Children will lean
towards their assigned toys, and this leads to their socialization behaviors later in life.
Additionally, a study conducted by (Cobb, Stevens-Long, & Goldstein, 1982) showed how
assigning toys to different sexes through media affected their choices in life further showing
more causes for disparities in cognitive thinking.
If children experiences were to be offered equally to young boys and girls, equal skills
and knowledge in spatial and mathematics would be gained as seen by (Gallagher &
Kaufman, 2005). This reveals a rather complex situation to which cognition may be related
mathematical performances in gender differences. It provides evidence that biological factors
may have no factor in the mathematical differences but rather an interplay between
environmental factors and biological capabilities (Williams, Birke, & Bendelow, 2003). Due
to this interplay, one could explain how cognitive and skills abilities in mathematics may
vary in boys and girls. However, it is the society that has a major say in the underlying
differences found in men and women in mathematics performances.
Differential development of cognitive behaviors can be attributed to the social
interactions experienced by boys and girls a notion supported by (Halpern & LaMay, 2000;
Williams et al., 2003) and their effect on mathematics. Williams et al., support that there are
preferential differences in boys and girls in the society which includes homes, schools and in
the workplace. Due to cultural differences, gender roles become more exposed leading to
further disparities in spatial and mathematical differences. (West & Zimmerman, 1987)
Attribute gender roles to personal accomplishments that affect mathematical abilities in life.
The idea of placing gender has provided men and women an ability to build up competency
and productiveness based on social constraints. Following the social structure, men and
women can develop interactions, achievements, and perceptions related to social
complexities. These influences inadvertently cause women to pursue careers outside
mathematical and spatial fields. These social complications affect how men and women view
themselves in regards to career choices.
It has been the social constructs that have led to perception found in the disparities in
mathematics and science performances. The social perception of what one is expected in life
whether male or female has created a major disparity in spatial and mathematics
performance. As we grow both physically and mentally, so does our perception of gender
based on the social constructs. The differences in spatial and mathematical have been
attributed to various factors in this paper, but ultimately, they all fall under the social
influences including cultural factors. These factors are compounded further by environmental
factors which makes all these differences possible. Thus, for these inequalities in education
and career profession to reduce, there is a need to change the social perception in gender roles
and create a unified society where all genders are treated equally.
Baker, D. P., & Jones, D. P. (1993). Creating gender equality: Cross-national gender
stratification and mathematical performance. Sociology of Education, 91103.
Cobb, N. J., Stevens-Long, J., & Goldstein, S. (1982). The influence of televised models on
toy preference in children. Sex Roles, 8(10), 10751080.
Deutsch, F. M. (2007). Undoing Gender. Gender & Society, 21(1), 106127.
Entwisle, D. R., Alexander, K. L., & Olson, L. S. (2004a). Temporary as compared to
permanent high school dropout. Social Forces, 82(3), 11811205.
Entwisle, D. R., Alexander, K. L., & Olson, L. S. (2004b). Temporary as compared to
permanent high school dropout. Social Forces, 82(3), 11811205.
Fradera, A. (2017, October 19). Reverse “stereotype threat” – women chess players perform
better against men than against other women. Retrieved December 29, 2017, from
Gallagher, A. M., & Kaufman, J. C. (2005). Gender differences in mathematics: What we
know and what we need to know. na.
Halpern, D. F., & LaMay, M. L. (2000). The Smarter Sex: A Critical Review of Sex
Differences in Intelligence. Educational Psychology Review, 12(2), 229246.
Hoffman, M., Gneezy, U., & List, J. A. (2011). Nurture affects gender differences in spatial
abilities. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 108(36), 1478614788.
Leahey, E., & Guo, G. (2001). Gender differences in mathematical trajectories. Social
Forces, 80(2), 713732.
Marini, M. M., & Greenberger, E. (1978). Sex Differences in Occupational Aspirations and
Expectations. Sociology of Work and Occupations, 5(2), 147178.
Meece, J. L., Wigfield, A., & Eccles, J. S. (1990). Predictors of math anxiety and its
influence on young adolescents’ course enrollment intentions and performance in
mathematics. Journal of Educational Psychology, 82(1), 60.
Moss-Racusin, C. A., Dovidio, J. F., Brescoll, V. L., Graham, M. J., & Handelsman, J.
(2012). Science faculty’s subtle gender biases favor male students. Proceedings of the
National Academy of Sciences, 109(41), 1647416479.
Muller, P. A., Stage, F. K., & Kinzie, J. (2001). Science achievement growth trajectories:
Understanding factors related to gender and racialethnic differences in precollege
science achievement. American Educational Research Journal, 38(4), 9811012.
Sanchez, C. A., & Wiley, J. (2010). Sex differences in science learning: Closing the gap
through animations. Learning and Individual Differences, 20(3), 271275.
Spelke, E. S. (2005a). Sex differences in intrinsic aptitude for mathematics and science?: a
critical review. American Psychologist, 60(9), 950.
Spelke, E. S. (2005b). Sex differences in intrinsic aptitude for mathematics and science?: a
critical review. American Psychologist, 60(9), 950.
West, C., & Zimmerman, D. H. (1987). Doing gender. Gender & Society, 1(2), 125151.
Williams, S. J., Birke, L., & Bendelow, G. A. (2003). Debating biology: Sociological
reflections on health, medicine and society. Routledge.

Place new order. It's free, fast and safe

550 words

Our customers say

Customer Avatar
Jeff Curtis
USA, Student

"I'm fully satisfied with the essay I've just received. When I read it, I felt like it was exactly what I wanted to say, but couldn’t find the necessary words. Thank you!"

Customer Avatar
Ian McGregor
UK, Student

"I don’t know what I would do without your assistance! With your help, I met my deadline just in time and the work was very professional. I will be back in several days with another assignment!"

Customer Avatar
Shannon Williams
Canada, Student

"It was the perfect experience! I enjoyed working with my writer, he delivered my work on time and followed all the guidelines about the referencing and contents."

  • 5-paragraph Essay
  • Admission Essay
  • Annotated Bibliography
  • Argumentative Essay
  • Article Review
  • Assignment
  • Biography
  • Book/Movie Review
  • Business Plan
  • Case Study
  • Cause and Effect Essay
  • Classification Essay
  • Comparison Essay
  • Coursework
  • Creative Writing
  • Critical Thinking/Review
  • Deductive Essay
  • Definition Essay
  • Essay (Any Type)
  • Exploratory Essay
  • Expository Essay
  • Informal Essay
  • Literature Essay
  • Multiple Choice Question
  • Narrative Essay
  • Personal Essay
  • Persuasive Essay
  • Powerpoint Presentation
  • Reflective Writing
  • Research Essay
  • Response Essay
  • Scholarship Essay
  • Term Paper
We use cookies to provide you with the best possible experience. By using this website you are accepting the use of cookies mentioned in our Privacy Policy.