Researchers from Carnegie Mellon University have been researching to dispel the myth that women don’t thrive in STEM fields due to biological deficiencies in math aptitude. Jessica Cantlon led the team at Carnegie Mellon University, and they “comprehensively examined” the brain development of young boys and girls.
The research showed no gender difference in brain function or math ability. Cantlon says that science doesn’t go along with the folk belief. She says that the research showed that children’s brains function similarly without gender differences. The team hopes their findings will recalibrate expectations of what children can achieve in mathematics.
The researchers conducted the first neuroimaging study to evaluate biological gender differences in math aptitude from young children. The team used a functional MRI to measure the brain activity of 104 children between 3 and 10 years old, with 55 of the number being girls. The children were evaluated while watching an educational video covering early math topics like counting and addition.
The results were also compared to those of adult men and women who watched the same videos. Canton and her team found no difference in the brain development of girls and boys. The team also found no difference in how boys and girls processed math skills, and the sexes were both equally engaged.
The team also compared the results of the Test of Early Mathematics Ability to a test for 3 to 8 year-olds. The team says that math ability was equivalent among the children and didn’t show a difference in gender or with age. There was also no gender difference between math ability and brain maturity. Cantlon says that she thinks society and culture are steering girls and young women away from math and STEM fields.