In contrast to achievement in the “outside world”, girls make better achievements scores in school than do boys. While the differences between boys and girls are rather small, they are consistently found in almost every type of measure used.
Thus girls receive better grades from their teachers and also do better on objective achievement tests.
While in general girls are better in such school subjects as English, spelling, writing, and art, and boys tend to achieve more in arithmetic, geography, and science, even with the latter subjects girls are frequently reported as doing better in school.
General Intelligence Tests:
Perhaps the best study on the question of sex difference in intelligence is the one done under the supervision of the Scottish Council for Research in Education where all the children in Scotland who were born on the first of February, May, August, and November of one year were given the Stanford-Binet test.
The average I.Q. for the boys were found to be 100.5, and for the girls, 99.7. This slight difference was not statistically significant and could be explained as due to errors of measurement.
It must be remembered, however, that the Binet test score is based on the sum of the scores earned on a large number of test items involving arithmetic reasoning, word definitions, memory, perceptual performances, etc.
If we look at tests designed to measure each of these specific abilities, we do find significant differences between boys and girls.
Thus girls are usually found to be superior to boys on verbal fluency and superior in memory tests, while boys are superior in mathematical ability-especially in mathematical reasoning as opposed to the straight forward manipulation of numbers.
In the more specialized aptitudes we again find differences between the sexes. In judgment and manipulation of spatial relationships and in most mechanical aptitude tests the boys are better. On the other hand, in tasks -requiring dexterity of the fingers or perceptual speed women seem to excel.
In all these measures, however, there is a great deal of overlap in the distribution of scores earned by boys and girls. Though the above statements are valid when speaking of the average boy or girl, we find many girls excelling many boys in mathematical reasoning, just as we find many boys who are superior to many girls in memory and verbal fluency.
Origins of Differences:
Are these differences due to biological factors or to social and cultural factors? It is obvious that boys and girls are difference in their anatomical structures and hormonal composition.
It is therefore conceivable that their intellectual and aptitude capacities are also genetically determined. The basis for this hypothesis becomes clear when we remember that any one behaviour trait is determined by a host of genes, and perhaps by the interaction of most of the genes.
The fact that performance differences between the sexes have also been reported for the lower animals further supports the biological argument, since here “cultural and social” influences can play very little role.
On the other hand it is equally clear that social and cultural influences are different for boys and girls and this might account for the observed differences in test performance.
And even the animal studies are not clear- cut, since the different biological structures and functions of the two sexes might result in their having different environmental experiences.
Our present data do not allow an unequivocal answer to the question of the origins of the observed differences in performance between male and female.