The University of Chicago News Office
July 5, 1995 Press Contact: Sabrina Miller
(773) 702-4195
sabrinamiller@uchicago.edu
 

New Study on Sex Difference in Mental Test Scores

A new survey of mental test results shows that while men and women score the same on average, more men than women score at both the highest and lowest levels, an effect that may help explain the greater proportions of men in both corporate suites and among school-age dropouts.

The study, by researchers at the University of Chicago, will be reported in Friday’s issue of the journal Science.

Larry Hedges, the Stella M. Rowley Professor of Education at the University of Chicago, and research assistant Amy Nowell, analyzed six different recent studies of men’s and women’s performance on tests of mental ability. Hedges and Nowell found that by combining the studies they were able to provide the first comprehensive look at the variation in mental test scores between men and women.

What they found is that although differences in test scores between men and women have been generally small and stable over time–since at least 1960–male test scores consistently have had a larger variability. Hedges says that this greater variation in men’s scores may explain some of the greater proportions of men at the highest and the lowest levels of achievement.

“The data show that there are simply more men than women who score at both the highest and lowest levels,” Hedges says. “This has important implications for achieving gender equity in society. Furthermore, it implies that males are, on average, at a rather profound disadvantage in the performance of certain basic intelligence skills. The U.S. has a larger number of men who can barely read, write or do arithmetic than is currently assumed.”

Hedges says that previous studies show that only people who score at the highest levels in mathematics, for example, succeed in the fields of science and engineering. He says that his study shows that substantial intervention may be needed to bring many more women into these fields, and similar intervention may be needed to help low-scoring men enter the work force.

Note: Larry Hedges is available to be interviewed today until 5:00 p.m. CST; and Thursday, June 6, and Friday, June 7, from 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. CST. Call Hedges at 312-702-1589 (work) or 312-363-0210 (home).

 

http://www-news.uchicago.edu/releases/95/950705.sex.and.testing.shtml
Last modified at 03:50 PM CST on Wednesday, June 14, 2000.

University of Chicago News Office
5801 South Ellis Avenue - Room 200
Chicago, Illinois 60637-1473
(773) 702-8360
Fax: (773) 702-8324
Contact Us