Sunday, May 04, 2008

Gender differences in reading in the U.S.

From a paper "Children reading fiction books because they want to" by Jan C. van Ours, January, 2006, available here through SSRN, the following summary of a paper by Tepper intrigued me because the surveys I have been doing in Burkina Faso find no big gender differences in reading habits of secondary school students.
Tepper (2000) investigates why in the US women are more than twice as likely to be readers of fiction than men. He has two competing hypotheses. One hypothesis is that women read more fiction because cultural norms and patterns of socialization emphasize fiction reading as an appropriate activity for young girls. The other hypothesis is that women read more because they develop the cognitive skills necessary to read at an earlier age than boys do and remain more proficient readers throughout their lifetimes. In other words, the two competing hypotheses are that women read more fiction either because they are encouraged to read by parents and teachers, or because they are better readers. Tepper concludes that the data provide strong support for the socialization theory and virtually no support for the cognition arguments: many American parents view fiction reading as an appropriate activity for girls and as inappropriate for boys.
And here is a nice blog post from Purple Motes on the subject.

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