Improved living conditions and less gender-restricted educational opportunities reduce the cognitive disparities between men and women or improve the gap in favor of women, according to new research by the International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis (IIASA) and the Karolinska Institutet.
The study, published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Science, investigated the extent to which improvements in living conditions and educational opportunities over a person’s life affect cognitive abilities and their implications for men and women.
“Our results show that there is no reason to expect all cognitive gender differences will diminish,” says Daniela Weber, IIASA researcher and lead author of the study.
“However, the findings from this study suggest that if women and men had equal levels of education, then we should expect a female advantage in episodic memory, a male advantage in numeracy, and no gender differences in category fluency (such as naming as many different animals as possible within one minute).”
The authors examined data from the “Survey of Health, Ageing, and Retirement in Europe” in which more than 31,000 men and women over the age of 50 from 13 European countries answered questions that tested cognitive functions including memory, mathematical ability, and verbal fluency.
Analysis of the data showed gender differences in cognitive abilities to be associated with the age of the participant, country of origin, and the living conditions and educational opportunities participants were exposed to when entering adulthood and middle age.
The study demonstrates how the magnitude of cognitive gender differences varied systematically across regions and birth cohorts. In regions that had undergone improvements in living conditions and expansion of gender-equal educational opportunities, women displayed superior memory to men, men’s advantage in mathematical abilities decreased, and equivalent abilities in category fluency were observed.
“The results suggest that we should expect that women demonstrate relative strength in particular cognitive functions while men in others, even in societies with higher living conditions and more gender equal educational opportunities,” explains Weber.
Previous studies have shown that men have an advantage in tasks assessing visuospatial and mathematical abilities, whereas women are found to outperform men in tasks assessing episodic memory and reading literacy, with no differences normally observed in category fluency and vocabulary.
In addition some research proposes biologically based explanations for these differences in cognitive abilities between the genders, whereas others indicate that societal factors influence the gender differences.
The Changing Face of Cognitive Gender Differences in Europe, Daniela Weber, Vegard Skirbekk, Inga Freund, and Agneta Herlitz. Proceedings of the National Academy of Science (PNAS Early edition www.pnas.org/cgi/doi/10.1073/pnas.1319538111)
Philippa Brooks | idw - Informationsdienst Wissenschaft
Risk taking across the life span: The effects of hardship
08.01.2016 | Max-Planck-Institut für Bildungsforschung
Using social media for professional purposes – does it pay off?
08.12.2015 | Leibniz-Institut für Wissensmedien
Today, plants and microorganisms are heavily used for the production of medicinal products. The production of biopharmaceuticals in plants, also referred to as “Molecular Pharming”, represents a continuously growing field of plant biotechnology. Preferred host organisms include yeast and crop plants, such as maize and potato – plants with high demands. With the help of a special algal strain, the research team of Prof. Ralph Bock at the Max Planck Institute of Molecular Plant Physiology in Potsdam strives to develop a more efficient and resource-saving system for the production of medicines and vaccines. They tested its practicality by synthesizing a component of a potential AIDS vaccine.
The use of plants and microorganisms to produce pharmaceuticals is nothing new. In 1982, bacteria were genetically modified to produce human insulin, a drug...
Atomic clock experts from the Physikalisch-Technische Bundesanstalt (PTB) are the first research group in the world to have built an optical single-ion clock which attains an accuracy which had only been predicted theoretically so far. Their optical ytterbium clock achieved a relative systematic measurement uncertainty of 3 E-18. The results have been published in the current issue of the scientific journal "Physical Review Letters".
Atomic clock experts from the Physikalisch-Technische Bundesanstalt (PTB) are the first research group in the world to have built an optical single-ion clock...
The University of Würzburg has two new space projects in the pipeline which are concerned with the observation of planets and autonomous fault correction aboard satellites. The German Federal Ministry of Economic Affairs and Energy funds the projects with around 1.6 million euros.
Detecting tornadoes that sweep across Mars. Discovering meteors that fall to Earth. Investigating strange lightning that flashes from Earth's atmosphere into...
Physicists from Saarland University and the ESPCI in Paris have shown how liquids on solid surfaces can be made to slide over the surface a bit like a bobsleigh on ice. The key is to apply a coating at the boundary between the liquid and the surface that induces the liquid to slip. This results in an increase in the average flow velocity of the liquid and its throughput. This was demonstrated by studying the behaviour of droplets on surfaces with different coatings as they evolved into the equilibrium state. The results could prove useful in optimizing industrial processes, such as the extrusion of plastics.
The study has been published in the respected academic journal PNAS (Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America).
Exceeding critical temperature limits in the Southern Ocean may cause the collapse of ice sheets and a sharp rise in sea levels
A future warming of the Southern Ocean caused by rising greenhouse gas concentrations in the atmosphere may severely disrupt the stability of the West...
09.02.2016 | Event News
02.02.2016 | Event News
26.01.2016 | Event News
11.02.2016 | Life Sciences
11.02.2016 | Physics and Astronomy
11.02.2016 | Earth Sciences