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The Gender Gap: A Brief Overview of the Theoretical Perspectives On Gender-Related Cognitive Differences

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  1. Introduction
  2. Arguments over innate intellectual discrepancy
  3. What the numbers show: Scholastic Aptitude Test (SAT) and Stanford Binet IQ Measurement
    1. The findings of M. Collaer and M. Hines
    2. The most striking difference found among college bound students
    3. Analyzing the available data from various tests
  4. Sociobiologists and evolutionary theorists
    1. Sociobiologists claim
    2. The theory of Darwin
    3. Differing evolutionary tracts and explaining the existing difference between male and female mathematical ability
  5. Physiology: Neurology and the Endocrine System
    1. Those that attribute differences in cognitive abilities to physiology
    2. Models attributing intellectual differences to endocrinology
  6. The brain
  7. Non scientific factors at work: The anthropological, sociological and social psychological approach
    1. The leading theory in this field
    2. Evidence of early childhood play experiences and it impact on developing an intellect
  8. Closing remarks
  9. References

In the fields of mathematics, engineering, and science a gender gap exists. Men still hold the vast majority of professional careers rooted in math and science in industrial countries. In the United States, for example, men account for more than three-quarters of all medical doctors, 90.3 percent of engineers, 75 percent of architects and 95 percent of computer technicians (U.S Department of Labor, 1999). In fact, 99 percent of all prestigious awards in mathematics during the 20th century went to men and 98 % of Nobel Prizes in science to men as well (Lips, 2000). How, as we move into the 21st century does one account for this striking disparity? Are there simply differences in intelligence (i.e. cognitive abilities) between men and women that can account for the fact that men by far outnumber women in professional careers rooted in math and science? Or, are other factors at work, such as psychological conditioning and cultural stereotyping that can explain the gender gap? The purpose of this paper is to briefly explore these questions.

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