Gender Differences in Child Development


Gender Differences in Child Development

By Max Stanley Chartrand, Ph.D. (Behavioral Medicine)


From birth, females are more sensitive to sounds; orient more to tones and are more startled by loud noises. Sense of hearing falls off much later in life for women than in men.

Because of a more developed corpus collosum at birth, girls have increased skin sensitivity; are more proficient at fine motor performance; better at carrying out rapid sequential movements.

Females are more attracted to and attentive to social contexts: faces, speech patterns, and tones of voice. (At 4 months can distinguish photographs of familiar people.)

Female infants speak sooner, possess larger vocabularies, rarely demonstrate speech defects. Vocabularies of 3,000-5,000 words by age 5. Stuttering occurs almost exclusively among boys, as do most speech problems.

Girls can sing in tune at an earlier age. Early linguistic bias often prevails throughout life. Girls read sooner, learn foreign languages easier, and as a result, are more likely to enter occupations involving language mastery.

Research evidence finds that girls differ in their approaches to gaining knowledge about the world. They tend to favor a "communicative mode": asking others, taking advantage of other people's experiences, sparing themselves the need to personally encounter all the objects in their environment. Thus, girls tend to conform by relying more on social cues. Since they are better equipped in the auditory mode, they can pick up significant information from tones of voice and intensity of expression (women's intuition?).

Boys show an early superiority in visual acuity, which compensates to some extent for their lowered auditory capacities. Boys are generally clumsier, performing poorly in fine motor performance, but doing better in gross total body movements, particularly those requiring fast reaction times (football, construction?).

Boys are more curious, especially in regard to exploring their environment, and are better at manipulating three-dimensional space.

Boys use their right hemisphere consistently for spatial processes; their left for cognitive processes. Girls tend to use both right and left hemispheres to solve a spatial problem, which can sometimes result in an interference phenomenon- a kind of log jamming in which the use of words to solve a spatial problem results in slowed, incorrect, or even absent responses.