Explaining Gender Differences in the Diagnosis of ADHD in Children

  • Ioana PetreEmail author
Part of the Advances in Neuroethics book series (AIN)


The aim of this chapter is to investigate the underlying mechanisms behind the difference in the number of ADHD diagnoses between the two genders during childhood, namely, the overdiagnosis of boys and the underdiagnosis of girls. I propose two hypotheses for explaining this outcome: (1) medical neglect of the way in which ADHD is manifested in girls and (2) social attitudes. In the end, I reject the medical neglect hypothesis and confirm the validity of a version of the social attitude one. I argue that social stereotypes regarding the behavior of schoolchildren influence the medical referral rate of girls and boys. Given that boys are more likely to experience the hyperactive/impulsive ADHD type and to externalize their behavior in a way that may seem disruptive, at least in the disciplined environment of the classroom, more teachers refer boys to medical consultations. My findings show the existence of social biases, but not of effects concerning the patient’s gender.


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Copyright information

© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.European CommissionBrusselsBelgium

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