Sex differences in intrinsic aptitude for mathematics and science?: a critical review

Am Psychol. 2005 Dec;60(9):950-8. doi: 10.1037/0003-066X.60.9.950.


This article considers 3 claims that cognitive sex differences account for the differential representation of men and women in high-level careers in mathematics and science: (a) males are more focused on objects from the beginning of life and therefore are predisposed to better learning about mechanical systems; (b) males have a profile of spatial and numerical abilities producing greater aptitude for mathematics; and (c) males are more variable in their cognitive abilities and therefore predominate at the upper reaches of mathematical talent. Research on cognitive development in human infants, preschool children, and students at all levels fails to support these claims. Instead, it provides evidence that mathematical and scientific reasoning develop from a set of biologically based cognitive capacities that males and females share. These capacities lead men and women to develop equal talent for mathematics and science.

Publication types

  • Meta-Analysis

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aptitude*
  • Career Choice
  • Child
  • Child Development
  • Child, Preschool
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Individuality
  • Infant
  • Male
  • Mathematics*
  • Problem Solving
  • Science*
  • Sex Characteristics*
  • Space Perception