Historically, many people believed that boys were “naturally” better at math than girls. But a new comprehensive imaging study shows that there is virtually no difference in how the brains of boys and girls process and respond to math. This is a case, says researcher Jessica Cantlon, where “science doesn’t align with people beliefs.”
This study builds on Cantlon team’s previous work that found equivalent behavioral performance on a range of mathematics tests between young boys and girls.
Cantlon said she thinks society and culture likely are steering girls and young women away from math and STEM fields. Previous studies show that families spend more time with young boys in play that involves spatial cognition. Many teachers also preferentially spend more time with boys during math class, predicting later math achievement. Finally, children often pick up on cues from their parent’s expectations for math abilities.