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Volume 22 Issue 1 (January 2019), Pages

Gender equality in 4‐ to 5‐year‐old preschoolers’ early numerical competencies

Abstract Numerical competencies acquired in preschool are foundational and predictive for children's later mathematical development. It remains to be determined whether there are gender differences in these early numerical competencies which could explain the often‐reported gender differences in later mathematics and STEM‐related abilities. Using a Bayesian approach, we quantified the evidence in favor of the alternative hypothesis of gender differences versus the null hypothesis of gender equality. Participants were 402 4‐ to 5‐year‐old children attending preschool in Flanders (Belgium). Children were selected via stratified cluster sampling to represent the full range of socioeconomic backgrounds. All children completed eight numerical tasks (verbal counting, object counting, numeral recognition, symbolic comparison, nonsymbolic comparison, nonverbal calculation, number order, dot enumeration). Results supported the gender equality hypothesis, and this evidence was substantial for seven of the eight numerical tasks. Preschoolers’ early numerical competencies are characterized by gender equality. They probably do not explain later‐reported gender differences.

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