Sex Differences in Mathematical Reasoning Ability at Age 13: Their Status 20 Years Later
Camilla P. Benbow, David Lubinski, Daniel L. Shea, and Hossain Eftekhari-Sanjani; 2000
Reported is the 20-year follow-up of 1,975 mathematically gifted adolescents (top 1%) whose assessments at age 12 to 14 revealed robust gender differences in mathematical reasoning ability. Both sexes became exceptional achievers and perceived themselves as such; they reported uniformly high levels of degree attainment and satisfaction with both their career direction and their overall success. The earlier sex differences in mathematical reasoning ability did predict differential educational and occupational outcomes. The observed differences also appeared to be a function of sex differences in preferences for (a) inorganic versus organic disciplines and (b) a career-focused versus more balanced life. Because profile differences in abilities and preferences are longitudinally stable, males probably will remain more represented in some disciplines, whereas females are likely to remain more represented in others. These data have policy implications for higher education and the world of work.