In this paper I will discuss some research studies that will explain why girls mature at a faster rate than boys, and what makes the brains of girls different from that of boys when it comes to learning and development. There are several reasons that can explain the difference between the levels of intelligence of males and females; the sizes of their brains, their preferred learning styles, etc. This paper presents evidence to support and argue each of those reasons.
Child development is crucial throughout the early years of life, and during this time the development of the brain occurs. During these early years, children’s brains are active which enables them to learn a variety of information. Many studies have been conducted and they have concluded a healthy lifestyle, physical activity, and exposing young children to a variety of education material assist with child development. The learning development of children is different amongst young boys and girls. Some research suggests that in the process of education in some countries, girls do better than boys. This outcome mainly occurs due to a different rate of biological development. It is well established that males and females have different predispositions towards developing different mental health conditions. For example, conditions such as autism spectrum disorder and dyslexia are more common in men, while depression and anxiety are more common in women. The studies I have researched for the purpose of this paper will give a better understanding of the nature of brain development between boys and girls, which helps in establishing that there are some differences in the learning styles between both genders.
According to Siegler & Alibali (2005), the changes in the size of the brain make it possible for advanced thinking. The neurons are the functioning core of the brain (Brotherson, 2005). The male and female brains differ not only by how they work, but they also differ in their sizes. Brain sizes tend to be a point of emphasis when discussing the developmental differences between males and females, and even though males of all ages tend to have slightly larger brains, on average, than females, even after correcting for differences in body size there are still differences in learning amongst genders in the learning development between girls and boys. This leads to the expectation that males should have higher average levels of intelligence than females, but by most measures of sensory and cognitive development, the senses of vision, hearing, memory, smell, and touch are all slight more advanced and more acute in female than male infants and that is a reason why girls mature at a much faster rate than boys.
Although there are many similarities in male and female brains, there are also various, neuroanatomical features that differ between men and women (Cosgrove et al., 2007). Males have been found to have a larger overall brain volume than women. In recent studies it was found that brain volume was between 8% and 13% larger in a man than a woman. There are differences between men and women in the volume of many different regions, and these included regions previously associated with different mental health conditions. For example, men tend to have larger volumes in brain regions associated with survival instincts, memory and learning, while women tend to have larger volumes in areas of the brain dealing with language and emotions. Brain size cannot simply explain the difference between the levels of intelligence between males and females because if it were as simple as that then looking at a different animal, such as a cow or a whale with much larger brains than humans should be geniuses if going by that standard. Cahill says. “Adjusted for total brain size (men’s are bigger), a woman’s hippocampus, critical to learning and memorization, is larger than a man’s and works differently. Conversely, a man’s amygdala, associated with the experiencing of emotions and the recollection of such experiences, is bigger than a woman’s. It, too, works differently, as Cahill’s research has demonstrated.” Brain regions that differ in size between men and women (such as the amygdala and the hippocampus) tend to contain especially high concentrations of receptors for sex hormones.
The main differences that should be acknowledged between the brain of men and that of women is that males on average have a larger volumes and higher tissue densities in the left amygdala, hippocampus, insular cortex, putamen; higher densities in the right VI lobe of the cerebellum and in the left claustrum; and larger volumes in the bilateral anterior Para hippocampal gyri, posterior cingulate gyri, precuneus, temporal poles, and cerebellum, areas in the left posterior and anterior cingulate gyri, and in the right amygdala, hippocampus, and putamen. By contrast, females on average have a higher density in the left frontal pole, and larger volumes in the right frontal pole, inferior and middle frontal gyri, pars triangularis, planum temporale/parietal operculum, anterior cingulate gyrus, insular cortex, and Heschl’s gyrus; bilateral thalami and precuneus; the left Para hippocampal gyrus, and lateral occipital cortex.
One predominant difference in gender takes place in studying and educating in the earlier years of schooling for children in both the elementary and secondary levels. Research has found that adult males and females learn differently in many aspects of education. First of all, the female and male brains are built in a different way which affects the way that they learn; this leads to primary variations in learning and additionally gives an introduction into why the way one learns differs according to gender and how adult males and women learn topics and tasks otherwise.
“Experience plays a key role in learning and individuals differ in the ways they approach various tasks and use experience. Some prefer learning through experimentation, and others prefer to start with observation. Kolb defines learning style as a student’s fairly consistent response to and use of stimuli in the context of learning (Hayden and Brown 1985).”
The studies that were observed reported various results on Kolb’s LSI. Kolb (1984) found that women tended to prefer concrete learning styles, whereas men were more likely to opt for abstract conceptualization modes of learning.
In a study conducted by Honigsfeld and Dunn (2003) to explore the gender differences in learning styles of adolescents among five nations, it was found that girls showed higher levels of self motivation, persistence, responsibility, need for warmer temperatures, sociological variety, parent motivation, and teacher motivation than boys, using the Dunn and Dunn’s Learning Style Inventory. Wehrwein, Lujan and DiCarlo (2007) investigated gender differences in learning style preferences in a group of undergraduate physiology students using the VARK questionnaire. The questionnaire consists of items related to learning style preferences in visual (V: learning from graphs, charts, and flow diagrams), auditory (A: learning from speech), read-write (R: learning from reading and writing), and kinesthetic (K: learning from touch, hearing, smell, taste, and sight). Results indicated that most male students preferred multimodal instruction, specifically, four modes (VARK), whereas most female students preferred single mode instruction, in particular, the K mode.
Maturation of the Brain
Preferential detachment, which is known as the selective pruning process that preserves core properties of the brain network that are crucial for information processing and cognitive development occurs earlier in females than in males, and could explain why cognitively, women tend to mature at a much faster rate than men do. In a study conducted at Newcastle University by Dr. Marcus Kaiser and Ms. Sol Lim, 121 people between the ages of 4 and 40 were recruited and an imaging tool was used to estimate how different regions of the brain might be communicating, specifically looking at fiber tracts that connect brain cells to one another. Lim explained that as the fiber tracts get reorganized, the brain gets rid of some of the tracts between cells that are already close to each other, but keeps the ones that connect brain-cells that are far away. The research concluded that while overall connections in the brain get streamlined, long-distance connections that are crucial for integrating information are preserved in healthy people of both sexes, there are dramatic gender differences at earlier stages of development. However, they also concluded, that not all projections (long-range connections) between brain regions are affected to the same extent for males and females; changes were influenced differently depending on the types of connections.
Girls generally start talking earlier than boys, and use more complex vocabulary. When they start school, most girls have slightly better verbal skills than boys – on average, they are a month or two ahead. As they progress through primary school, girls continue to outperform boys when it comes to verbal skills. By the time children leave primary school, girls are about a year ahead with reading and the gap is even bigger for writing. However, boys are roughly level with girls when it comes to attainment in math at primary school. In recent years, girls have consistently been outshining boys in most subjects at GCSE level. Education experts believe this could be down to the element of coursework involved. Girls, on the whole, prefer continuous assessment and outperform boys in this area of the exam. The gap in attainment at the age of 16, has led some teachers to believe that single-sex lessons in core subject are the way forward when it comes to motivating male students and improving boys’ grades. They argue that boys, for instance, feel less demoralized in subjects like literacy when there are no female students in the classroom to compete with.
The learning development of children according to their gender is sure to differ because of maturity and not brain size. The evidence in each study supports the fact that women mature faster than men, but it does not show what the underlying cause for intelligence is. What we know for sure is that men and women both have parts of the brain that are stronger in some areas in contrast to the other. Men have larger volumes in brain regions associated with survival instincts, memory and learning, while women tend to have larger volumes in areas of the brain dealing with language and emotions, which is explained by levels of masculinity we normally see in men and the femininity we normally see in women. The Joel study (2005), which examined 1,400 male and female brains, “showed an enormous amount of overlap between the structures of male and female brains. Although some features were more common in females and vice versa, there wasn’t a consistent “male” or “female” brain. The study concluded that although there are some differences between sexes, human brains simply couldn’t be categorized as male or female. Additionally, assumptions about men being smarter based on brain size have been shown to be faulty. A meta-analysis (a study that combines many studies) by Voyer and Voyer (2014) noted a “small but significant female advantage” in school grades.”
It is clear that although Males of all ages tend to have slightly larger brains, on average, than females, even after correcting for differences in body size. There are differences in learning amongst genders, learning development between girls and boys for two main reasons. First, by most measures of sensory and cognitive development girls are slightly more advanced, but most importantly girls mature much faster than boys.
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