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Influences of schooling and urban rural residence on gender differences in cognitive abilities and academic achievement


Stevenson HWHarold , Chen CChuansheng , Booth JRJames . Sex Roles. 1990 11 ; 23(). 535-551


A total of 1151 children from indigenous Quechua-speaking families residing in squatter settlements of the city and in two remote rural environments in Peru was given a battery of 16 tests of academic achievement and cognitive abilities. The former tests assessed reading and mathematics achievement and the latter tapped a broad range of cognitive functions. Children were enrolled in first, second, or third grade or did not attend school. “Younger” children were from 6 to 8 years old, and “older” children were from 9 to 12 years old. Large differences in cognitive functioning were associated with attendance at school, grade in school, age, and urban-rural residence. Gender was found to account for less than 5% of the variance in children’s performance on cognitive and academic tasks. Gender effects appeared to decline with increased amount of schooling. This was reflected in interactions involving gender and schooling and in a greater number of significant gender effects for children who did not attend school or were in first grade. The results present a complicated picture of various interactional effects of task, location, age, and schooling on the detected gender differences in cognitive abilities and academic achievement.