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PSYC 3480 (233)
Chapter 5


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PSYC 3480
Noreen Stuckless

CHAPTER 5 BACKGROUND ON GENDER COMPARISONS CautionsAbout Research on Gender Comparisons – a variety of biases can have a powerful effect when psychologists conduct research about either women or gender comparisons, we need to be cautious about interpreting the results of the research 5 cautions: 1) Biased samples can influence results.Almost all research on cognitive abilities focuses on college students, so we know almost nothing about adults who have not attended college. Most of the research examines white men and women in the United States and Canada 2) People's expectations can biased the results. Researchers who expect to find gender differences tend to find gender differences, the participants also tend to have expectations 3) If we measure some ability, and then we create one graph for the scores of males and we add another graph for the scores of females,the two distributions of the score will overlap substantially.Afrequency distribution tells us how many people in a sample receive each score – distributions of female and male characteristics rarely show the large separation and the small overlap – they are much more likely to show a small separation and a large overlap – males and females are reasonably similar, as result their scores will overlap considerably – women differ widely from one another in cognitive abilities; men also show wide variation 4) Researchers seldom find gender differences in all situations. We cannot make general statements about gender differences. The gender differences often disappear when we test certain kinds of people or when we look at particular situations. Gender differences can be modified, they are not inevitable. Many males and females have remarkably similar psychological characteristics in many situations 5) The cognitive gender differences are not large enoguh to be relevant for a person's career choice. Only about 12% of U.S engineers are women. Engineering requires spatial skills, and the research shows that men are somewhat more likely than women to earn highers scores on tests of spatial ability - 7% of males and 3% of females typically place in the top 5% of the population in spatial skills - about 30% of people with superior spatial abilities are female - gender difference in spatial skills might particularly explain the relative absence of women in engineering The MetaAnalysisApproach to Summarizing Multiple Studies – box score approach or counting approach: researchers read through all the appropriate studies on a given topic and draw conclusions based on a tally of their outcomes – box score approach often produces ambiguous tallies – meta analysis: provides a statistical method for combining numerous studies on a single topic – they then perform a statistical analysis that combines the results from all these studies, taking into account the variability of the scores for both females and males – this analysis calculates the size of the overall difference between two groups of people – a meta-analysis yields a number known as the effect size, or d – Hyde: examined 128 meta analysis measures that focused n gender comparisons in cognitive skills, 30% of the gender comparisons were in the “close to zero” range (d less than 0.11), 48% had a small effect size (d= 0.11-0.35), 15% had a moderate effect size (d= 0.36-0.65), and 8% had a large effect size (d greater than 0.65) – the clear majority of these comparisons of cognitive abilities showed either no gender difference or a small gender difference CognitiveAbilities That Show No Consistent Gender Differences General Intelligence – one major area in which females and males are similar is general intelligence, as measured by total scores on an IQ test, no consistent gender differences – people who construct intelligence tests often eliminate test items that show a gender difference – IQ scores for males show greater variability than IQ scores for females – gender similarities in general knowledge about history, geography, and other basic information Complex Cognitive Tasks – males and females are equally competent when they form concepts and when they solve a variety of complex problems – males and females are also similar in their performance on a variety of creativity tasks – researchers have not discovered gender differences in learning styles – women and men are generally similar in their general intelligence and complex cognitive abilities MemoryAbility – women tend to score higher on a variety of memory tasks – no general meta-analysis that examines gender comparisons in all the various kinds of memory skills – in one kind of memory task, people see a list of words, after a delay they are asked to remember the words. In general, women are somewhat more accurate on this kind of memory skill – however, the nature of the items on the list may influence the results – The list was labelled either “grocery store” or “hardware store” – women recalled many more items than men from the “grocery” list, but women and men recalled a similar number of items from the “hardware” list – women also tend to be more accurate than men in remembering events from their own lives – the gender differences in memory for life events is therefore consistent with the research in cognitive psychology, which shows that people with practice and expertise in a specific area remember this material more accurately than non experts – women tend to be more accurate than men in recognizing faces – Swedish women performed better than Swedish men in recognizing the faces of people from South Asian country of Bangladesh – women are also more accurate in recalling details about a person's hair and clothing – women are also better than men in remembering objects that they have seen at an earlier time and also in remembering where they have seen these objects – men and women are similar in remembering abstract shapes – women generally score higher on memory tests for words, life events, faces and objects VerbalAbility – females score somewhat higher than males on a small number of verbal tasks, although the overall gender similarities are more striking General VerbalAbility – there is little current research on gender comparisons in preschoolers verbal ability – some early research suggests that girls have higher vocabularies than boys before the age of two, but these gender differences disappear by three years of age – the similarities are more striking thAN THE DIFFERenceS when we consider young school-age children – when we consider adolescents and adults, the research shows gender similarities in language skills such as spelling, vocabulary, word associations reading comprehension, and learning a second language – females seem to be somewhat better at verbal fluency or naming objects that meet certain criteria such as beginning with the letter S – in recent years, females have scored higher on tests of writing ability, however, it isnt clear whether this gender difference has practical implications for women's success in the classroom and on the job – Janet Hyde and Marcia Linn conducted a meta analysis on overall gender comparisons in verbal ability and the average effect size was on 0.11, just slightly favoring females – this value is very close to zero so they concluded that overall gender differences do not exist – other researchers have reached the same conclusions about verbal abilities, based on standardized tests test scores for U.S students – researchers seldom study the two general areas in which females ocassionally have advantage, memory and verbal abilities – there is much research about mathematics and spatial abilities, areas in which males have advantage – gender differences on the language component of the SAT that includes reading component and sentence completion, are minimal – in 2009, the average SAT critical reading score was 498 for women and 503 for men – gender differences are also minimal for theAdvanced Placement examination, in several related areas, specifically English language, English literature, and all foreign languages Reading Disabilities – gender differences in verbal skills are minimal, but males are more likely than females to have language problems such as reading disabilities – school systems report reading disabilities about four or five times as often for boys as for girls – Sally Shaywitz suggested that teachers might target more active, less attentive boys as having reading abilities – According to Shaywitz, an objective of the term reading disability should refer to poor reading skills that are not accounted for by the level of general intelligence – these researchers used this operational definition in to study children in Connecticut, finding that roughly the same number of boys and girls met the criterion of having reading disabilities, boys were about 1.2 times more likely than girls to have reading – Rutter performed a more recent analysis of children's reading disabilities in New Zealand, when they included general intelligence in their analysis, they found that boys were about twice as likely as girls to have reading disabilities – other research shows that boys have more trouble focusing their attention, whereas girls are more skilled at controlling their behaviour – it is likely that teachers target the more active, less attentive boys as having reading disabilities these boys may be referred to a reading clinic on the basis of their behaviour, rather than their poor reading skills – many girls probably have genuine reading disabilities, but they sit quietly in their seats and hide their disabilities – girls are often invisible in our schools, and because of this invisibility they lose out on educational opportunities – however, we also have to conclude that boys are more likely than girls to have reading disabilities MathematicAbilities – performance in mathematics is the cognitive ability that receives the most attention – females and males in both the U.S and Canada now complete the same number of math courses during high school – females actually receive higher grades in math courses – the only measures on which males perform substantially better than females is the mathematics section of the SAT General MathematicsAbility – consider a meta-analysis of 100 studies based on standardized test scores of more than 3 million students – this analysis did not include SAT math scores – by examining across all samples and tests, Janet hyde found a d of only 0.15 – the national center for education statistics reported the scores for eighth grade students on a standardized math tests – average score from 34 countries were included – the boys' average was higher than the girls' average in 16 countries, the average girls score was higher than boys' average in 16 countries, and they had the same average in 2 countries – Janet hyde examined the scores for 7.2 milliondstudents in the Uth, they found consistent gender similarities for students of all ages, from 2 grade through 11 grade, even when the tests included complex math problems Grades in Mathematics Courses – females earn higher grades in, fifth, sixth, eighth, and tenth grade mathematics as well as in college math courses – Females also earn
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