Sex Roles

, Volume 23, Issue 11–12, pp 613–628 | Cite as

The socialization of sex-differentiated skills and academic performance: A mediational model

  • Lisa A. Serbin
  • Phyllis Zelkowitz
  • Anna-Beth Doyle
  • Dolores Gold
  • Blair Wheaton


Using a multifactorial model, sex differences in academic performance were examined in a sample of 347 elementary school children. As expected, girls' academic performance averaged higher than boys'. Path analysis confirmed initial hypotheses that girls' advantage is partially due to their characteristic of greater responsiveness to social cues and compliance with adult direction. This advantage was partially offset in this model by boys' greater visual-spatial skill, which also was a predictor of academic success. Access to stereotypic masculine toys and activities at home was, for both sexes, a predictor of children's visual-spatial ability. As expected, socioeconomic variables, including mothers' occupation and fathers' level of education, also influenced the environmental, social, and cognitive factors predicting academic success. These results indicate that boys' and girls' differential development of specific cognitive and social skills may play an important role in establishing sex differences in academic performance.


Elementary School Social Skill School Child Academic Performance Differential Development 


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Copyright information

© Plenum Publishing Corporation 1990

Authors and Affiliations

  • Lisa A. Serbin
    • 1
  • Phyllis Zelkowitz
    • 1
  • Anna-Beth Doyle
    • 1
  • Dolores Gold
    • 1
  • Blair Wheaton
    • 2
  1. 1.Center for Research in Human Development and Department of PsychologyConcordia UniversityMontrealCanada
  2. 2.McGill UniversityCanada

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