A new Vanderbilt University study of more than 8,000 males and females ranging in ages from 2 to 90 in the United States has found that females have significant advantages over males when it comes to timed tests and tasks. The differences were found to be most significant among preteens and teens, according to Vanderbilt researchers Stephen Camarata and Richard Woodcock.
“We found very minor differences in overall intelligence. But if you look at the ability of someone to perform well in a timed situation, females have a big advantage,” Camarata said. “‘Processing speed’ doesn’t refer to reaction time or the ability to play video games. It’s the ability to effectively, efficiently and accurately complete work that is of moderate difficulty. Though males and females showed similar processing speed in kindergarten and preschool, females became much more proficient than males in elementary, middle and high school.”
Males scored lower than females in all age groups when it came to processing speed, but the study did find that males outperformed females consistently in some surprising areas, such as identifying objects, knowing antonyms and synonyms and being able to complete verbal analogies. These findings go against the idea that women/girls are better with communication skills earlier.
The researchers wrote, “Consider that many classroom activities, including testing, are directly or indirectly related to processing speed. The higher performance of females may contribute to a classroom culture that favors females, not because of teacher bias but because of inherent differences in sex processing speed.” The study was recently published in the journal Intelligence.