New research at Carnegie Mellon University indicates that there is no gender disparity in how children learn and perform math skills.
In 1992, Teen Talk Barbie was released with the controversial voice fragment, “Math class is hard.” While the toy’s release met with public backlash, this underlying assumption persists, propagating the myth that women do not thrive in science, technology, engineering and mathematic (STEM) fields due to biological deficiencies in math aptitude.
Jessica Cantlon at Carnegie Mellon University led a research team that comprehensively examined the brain development of young boys and girls. Their research shows no gender difference in brain function or math ability. The results of this research are available online in the November 8 issue of the journal Science of Learning.
“Science doesn’t align with folk beliefs,” said Cantlon, the Ronald J. and Mary Ann Zdrojkowski Professor of Developmental Neuroscience at CMU’s Dietrich College of Humanities and Social Sciences and senior author on the paper. “We see that children’s brains function similarly regardless of their gender so hopefully we can recalibrate expectations of what children can achieve in mathematics.”
Cantlon and her team conducted the first neuroimaging study to evaluate biological gender differences in math aptitude of young children.