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Teaching the Female Brain

Teaching the Female Brain
How Girls Learn Math and Science

Edited by:

208 pages | Corwin
Abigail James has made an extensive study of cognitive gender differences and examined how that knowledge can best be applied to practices in teaching boys and girls. In this work, she examines how girls' unique sensory, physical, cognitive, and emotional systems affect their performance in the classroom, and provides specific suggestions for how teachers can use that information to benefit girls either in single-sex or co-ed settings.

In particular, the book focuses on math and science instruction, since women are under-represented in these courses at the university level and in related fields, despite current incentives for female students to select math, science, or engineering majors. A large part of the problem, it seems, is that math and science classes are simply not taught in ways that complement the female brain. James shows teachers how to incorporate research-based findings and adapt classroom experiences to assist girls' learning, within the best standards of classroom instruction.

Foreword by Monica M. Gillespie
About the Author
1. The Influence of Cognitive Gender Differences

Part I: The Brain and Senses

Part II: The Mind

2. Differences in Learning Approaches

Learning Modalities

Group Size


Learning Disabilities

Synthesizing vs. Analyzing

3. Dealing With Stress


Management of Test Anxiety

Ability vs. Effort

4. Teaching Math to the Female Brain

Performance in Math

Why Girls Don't Like Math

What Can Be Done to Help?

5. Teaching Science to the Female Brain

Why Girls Don't Like Science

Why Girls Should Do Well in Science

What Can Be Done to Help?

6. Teaching Math and Science to Girls in a Coed School
Sociocultural Issues

Role Models

Verbal vs. Visual Approach

Singe-Sex Classes or Programs

Practical Applications

7. Gendered Instruction
Virginia Standards of Learning

Differentiated Instruction

Multiple Intelligences

Learning Modalities

Unit Design

Empowering Girls as Learners

Test-Taking Strategies

Final Words

8. Resources and Other Helps
Math Techniques


Web Sites

Learning Style Assessments


"I haven't been this excited about a book in a long time. James combines sound, up-to-date scholarship with effective, practical advice. Whether you teach girls or boys or both, this book is an invaluable resource for classroom strategies and professional growth."

Patricia D. Parisi, Principal
St. Clement's School, Toronto, ON, Canada

"Informed by extensive experience in same-gender school settings, and a good deal of introspection regarding her own tendencies, her suggestions are informative and practical. The author moves from helping students deal with stress, to teaching science and mathematics to girls--making suggestions along the way for what might be helpful in everyday classroom situations."

D. E. Tanner
California State University of Fresno

"A worthy successor to James’ groundbreaking book, Teaching the Male Brain. This book complements and builds upon other seminal works rooted in brain-based research. However, the point of view is that of an expert practitioner, and each observation about how girls’ brains work and how girls learn is accompanied by voluminous and practical examples that teachers can use daily in their classrooms. This book should be required reading for all who teach girls in both single-sex and coed settings. Reading it will optimize the experience of girls in America’s classrooms."

Patrick F. Bassett, President
National Association of Independent Schools

"James’ text is a wonderful resource for teachers and parents of girls. The practical suggestions for math and science teachers are an absolute highlight. If educators read and follow the encouraging suggestions in this book, more girls would be empowered to succeed in math and science."

Kate Broadley, Researcher
Alliance of Girls’ Schools

"Teaching the Female Brain offers research-based insights for educators and administers to recognize and develop strategies that better meet the preferences of female learners.You are certain to learn something from this book that will inform how you approach your work as a mathematics educator."

Mark W. Ellis, California State University Fullerton
Mathematics Teacher Magazine, May 2011 (Vol. 104, No. 9)

Sample Materials & Chapters


Chapter 1

Abigail Norfleet James

Abigail Norfleet James taught for many years in single-sex schools and consults on the subject of gendered teaching to school systems, colleges, and universities. Her area of expertise is developmental and educational psychology as applied to the gendered classroom. Prior to obtaining her doctorate from the University of Virginia’s Curry School of Education, she taught general science, biology, and psychology in both boys’ and girls’ schools.Her previous publications include reports of research comparing the educational attitudes of male graduates of coed schools and single-sex schools, research describing the effects of gendered basic... More About Author

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