Understanding sex differences in reading

Differences between boys and girls in reading skill (and reading attitudes) are frequently reported in large scale national and international (e.g., PIRLS) assessments, with results favouring girls.  However, it is important to appreciate that there is considerable variation among the scores of girls and the scores of boys, and also considerable overlap between boys and girls’ scores – therefore comparisons of sex differences often exaggerate relatively small differences.  Our research has shown that differences between boys and girls in reading attitudes and motivation are wider than differences found in reading attainment.  In addition, we have found that children’s gender identity (i.e., the extent to which they identify with masculine and feminine traits) is a stronger predictor of their reading motivation and reading choices than their biological sex.  Finally, we have found that girls are more likely to cross gender boundaries when it comes to reading fiction books (i.e., will read books aimed at boys); boys are less likely to cross these boundaries.

Please learn more about our research on this topic in the posters below:

McGeown, S. P.  (2013). Sex or gender identity?  Understanding children’s reading choices and motivation.  Journal of Research in Reading, 38, 35-46.  

McGeown, S., Goodwin, H., Henderson, N., & Wright, P.  (2012). Gender differences in reading motivation:  Does sex or gender identity provide a better account?  Journal of Research in Reading, 35, 328-336.

Logan, S., & Medford, E.  (2011). Gender differences in the strength of association between motivation, competency beliefs and reading skill. Educational Research, 53, 85-94. 

Logan, S., & Johnston, R.  (2009). Gender differences in reading ability and attitudes: examining where these differences lie.  Journal of Research in Reading, 32, 199-214.

Logan, S., & Johnston, R. S.  (2010). Investigating gender differences in reading.  Educational Review, 62, 175-187. 

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