Sekseverschillen in Verbaal en Visuospatieel Werkgeheugen en Reken- en Wiskundeprestaties bij Jongvolwassenen
Laar, H.G. van
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Background. Men seem to outperform women on arithmetic and mathematical skills. This sparks concerns, because the level of mastery of these skills has important consequences for career options and paths, especially in the STEM-field. Working memory could be an important factor in the development of arithmetic and mathematical skills and consists of three systems: the central executive, the phonological loop (verbal working memory), and the visuospatial sketchpad (visuospatial working memory). Aim. This study investigates the role of verbal and visuospatial working memory in the relationship between gender and arithmetic and mathematical skills, focusing on Dutch young adults between 18 and 35 years old. Method. This study used an online questionnaire in which 187 respondents participated. Tempo Test Rekenen was used to measure arithmetic skills, and Cognitieve Reflectietaak was used to measure mathematical skills. Digit span forward and backward tasks were used to measure verbal working memory. Matrices forward and backward tasks were used to measure visuospatial working memory. Results and conclusion. Men and women differed significantly in arithmetic and mathematical skills, but not in verbal and visuospatial working memory. Verbal and visuospatial working memory were significant predictors for arithmetic skills, but not for mathematical skills. In conclusion, men and women differ in arithmetic and mathematical skills, but this is not due to differences in working memory. It is likely that other factors play a more important role in these sex differences.