This information was produced by the staff of the Belin-Blank International Center for Gifted Education and Talent Development (B-BC) at the University of Iowa ( The resources and information listed here are for informational purposes; there is no direct or implied endorsement by the B-BC. Services provided by the B-BC include programs for academically talented K-12 and college students, professional development for teachers, the Assessment and Counseling Clinic, the Acceleration Institute (, and graduate programs and research in gifted education.

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Annotated Bibliography

Articles are listed in descending order by year (most recent first), and then by first author's last name.


Hemelt, S. W., & Lenard, M. A. (2020). Math acceleration in elementary school: Access and effects on student outcomes. Economics of Education Review, 74, 1–21.

This paper examines curricular acceleration in mathematics during elementary school using administrative data from a large, diverse school district that recently implemented a targeted, test-based acceleration policy. We first characterize access to advanced math and then estimate effects of acceleration in math on measures of short-run academic achievement as well as non-test-score measures of grit, engagement with schoolwork, future plans, and continued participation in the accelerated track. Experiences and effects of math acceleration differ markedly for girls and boys. Girls are less likely to be nominated for math acceleration and perform worse on the qualifying test, relative to boys with equivalent baseline performance. We find negative effects of acceleration on short-run retention of math knowledge for girls, but no such performance decay for boys. After initial exposure to accelerated math, girls are less likely than boys to appear in the accelerated track during late elementary school and at the start of middle school.

Makel, M. C., Wai, J. Peairs, K., & Putallaz, M. (2016). Sex differences in the right tail of cognitive abilities: An update and cross cultural extension. Intelligence, 59, 8-15. doi: 10.1016/j.intell.2016.09.003  

Male–female ability differences in the right tail (at or above the 95th percentile) have been widely discussed for their potential role in achievement and occupational differences in adults. The present study provides updated male–female ability ratios from 320,000 7th grade students in the United States in the right tail (top 5%) through the extreme right tail (top 0.01%) from 2011 to 2015 using measures of math, verbal, and science reasoning. Additionally, the present study establishes male-female ability ratios in a sample of over 7000 7th grade students in the right tail from 2011 to 2015 in India. Results indicate that ratios in the extreme right tail of math ability in the U.S. have shrunk in the last 20 years (still favoring males) and remained relatively stable in the verbal domain (still favoring females). Similar patterns of male-female ratios in the extreme right tail were found in the Indian sample. 

Miller, D., & Wai, J. (2015). The bachelor's to PhD STEM pipeline no longer leaks more women than men: A 30-year analysis. Frontiers in Psychology: Developmental, 6, 37.  

For decades, research and public discourse about gender and science have often assumed that women are more likely than men to “leak” from the science pipeline at multiple points after entering college. We used retrospective longitudinal methods to investigate how accurately this “leaky pipeline” metaphor has described the bachelor’s to Ph.D. transition in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) fields in the U.S. since the 1970s. Among STEM bachelor’s degree earners in the 1970s and 1980s, women were less likely than men to later earn a STEM Ph.D. However, this gender difference closed in the 1990s. Qualitatively similar trends were found across STEM disciplines. The leaky pipeline metaphor therefore partially explains historical gender differences in the U.S., but no longer describes current gender differences in the bachelor’s to Ph.D. transition in STEM. The results help constrain theories about women’s underrepresentation in STEM. Overall, these results point to the need to understand gender differences at the bachelor’s level and below to understand women’s representation in STEM at the Ph.D. level and above. Consistent with trends at the bachelor’s level, women’s representation at the Ph.D. level has been recently declining for the first time in over 40 years. 

Malin, J. & Makel, M. C. (2012). Gender differences in gifted students' advice on solving the world's problems. Journal for the Education of the Gifted, 35, 175-187.  

Gender differences in interests and preferences are among the currently accepted potential explanations for the underrepresentation of women in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) fields. In an attempt to analyze the development of such preferences, gender differences expressed in essays written by gifted elementary students were assessed. Students were asked to hypothetically embody a cabinet member and advise the president to solve the nation’s most important problem. Numerous significant gender differences were found, including which cabinet post was selected, the type of problem selected as well as the implications for solution implementation. These findings illustrate that the development of gender differences is an ongoing process that has already begun by the end of elementary school. 

Wai, J., Cacchio, M., Putallaz, M., & Makel, M. C. (2010). Sex differences in the right tail of cognitive abilities: A 30-year examination. Intelligence 38, 412-423.  

One factor in the debate surrounding the underrepresentation of women in science technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) involves male-female mathematical ability differences in the extreme right tail (top 1 percent in ability). The present study provides male-female ability ratios from over 1.6 million seventh grade students in the right tail (top 5 percent in ability) across 30 years (1981-2010) using multiple measures of math, verbal, and writing ability and science reasoning from the SAT and ACT. Male-female ratios in mathematical reasoning are substantially lower than 30 years ago, but have been stable over the last 20 years and still favor males. Over the last two decades males showed a stable or slightly increasing advantage in science reasoning. However, more females scored in the extreme right tail of verbal reasoning and writing ability tests. The potential role of sociocultural factors on changes in the male-female ability ratios is discussed and the introduction of science reasoning as a potential new factor in the debate is proposed. The implications of continued sex differences in math and science reasoning is discussed within the context of the many important interlocking factors surrounding the debate on the underrepresentation of women in STEM. 

Vanderbrook, C. M. (2006). Intellectually gifted females and their perspectives of lived experience in the AP and IB programs. The Journal of Secondary Gifted Education, 17(3), 133-148.  

The Advanced Placement (AP) and International Baccalaureate (IB) programs serve as popular choices for many intellectually gifted high school students. This article describes an aspect of a larger study that examined 5 intellectually gifted females’ perceptions of their educational experience while enrolled in one of the programs. Using the phenomenological method of qualitative research, this study reports that the participants identified various challenges within the curriculum as part of the overall AP and IB experience. In addition, the participants believe that the teachers in these programs heavily influenced their perception of their experience in the program. 

Noble, K. D., Subotnik, R. F., & Arnold, K. D. (1999). To thine own self be true: A new model of female talent development. Gifted Child Quarterly, 43(3), 140-149.  

Describes an innovative model of female talent development based upon the life experiences of gifted women from a wide variety of backgrounds and talent domains. Key issues addressed by the model are the personal, professional, and cultural challenges common to gifted females and strategies for coping with them. 

Silverman, L. (1993). What happens to the gifted girl? In J. Maker (Ed.), Critical issues in gifted education: programs for the gifted in regular classrooms, Vol. III. Austin, TX: PRO-ED.  

Dr. Silverman makes a good case for early entrance to kindergarten or first grade being preferable to letting girls go "underground" academically to fit in, as they often do at around age 9. 

Stocking, V. B., & Goldstein, D. (1992). Course selection and performance of very high ability students: Is there a gender gap? Roeper Review, 15, 48-51. 

Stocking, V. B., & Goldstein, D. (1992). Course selection and performance of very high ability students: Is there a gender gap? Roeper Review, 15, 48-51. [Keywords: Gender; Identification and Testing]

Recent attention has focused on the decreasing levels of scholastic achievement of youth in the United States, particularly in areas of mathematics and science. In particular, concern has been expressed about the involvement and achievement of girls in traditionally sex stereotyped curricula, such as mathematics and science. This paper reports on an investigation exploring the course-taking and achievement patterns of academically talented girls and boys, selected by Scholastic Aptitude Test (SAT) scores. The subjects in this study were enrolled in the Talent Identification Program's Summer Residential Program at Duke University, an intensive 3-week academic experience. The study found that girls and boys performed equally well in all types of classes. Main effects in achievement and motivation were found only for type of class. The success of the students indicated that the SAT is a valid selection instrument. In addition, the usefulness of the SAT as an identifier of very high academic ability is described.

Montgomery, J. L. (1990). Factors that influence the career aspirations of mathematically precocious females. Presented at the Asian Conference on Giftedness: Growing up Gifted and Talented, Taipei, Taiwan.  

The career aspirations and the factors influencing career decisions were investigated for a group of extremely precocious females to determine why some enter math/science careers and others do not. Using the multiple-case study approach, 15 mathematically precocious females' career paths were characterized. These females had scored before age 13 at least 700 on the Scholastic Aptitude Test-Mathematics (SAT-M) (frequency top 1 in 60,000). Questionnaires completed at age 13, in 8th grade, and after high school graduation were used; in-depth telephone interviews at 19 to 21 years provided further data. Extremely mathematically precocious females have focused career goals by age 18; two-thirds had entered math/science fields by age 19-21. These math talented females viewed their career choice as a reflection of interests, which stemmed from early family influences and educational opportunities.

Janos, P. M., Sanfilippo, S. M., & Robinson, N. M. (1986). Underachievement among markedly accelerated college students. Journal of Youth and Adolescence, 15(4), 303-311.  

This study investigated those few lackluster achievers as could be identified, using loose criteria, in a college-level program of academic acceleration. Underachieving males appeared less psychologically mature and appeared to suffer more internal conflict than achieving males, but underachieving females evidenced greater maturity than their counterparts.  

Long, B. H. (1973). Acceleration in science for achieving high school women. Project RISE (Final Report). Washington, DC: National Science Foundation. 

This study demonstrates that a population of high-achieving young women with sufficient motivation and ability for acceleration in science may be readily identified and that acceleration in science is practical for such a group. To test the effects of participation in a research-oriented multi-disciplinary college course (Research Introduction to Science) by high-achieving female high school juniors, 324 students selected on the basis of grades and achievement test scores were administered the Strong Vocational Interest Blank for Women and the Careers Attitudes and Plans Survey. They were also offered the possibility of taking a free multidisciplinary college course. The 137 students definitely interested in taking the course were randomly divided into two groups: experimental (enrolled in the course) and control (not enrolled). They differed significantly from the 187 not interested on 32 of the 69 variables. Fifty-eight students (85%) successfully completed the course, and their grades and ratings of enjoyment of the course correlated significantly with 42 pre and post measures. Those sufficiently motivated for the course were significantly higher on "science" factor scores and more interested in careers in general than those not motivated.