Gender Differences in Dyslexia Diagnoses


It has long been true that men are diagnosed with dyslexia more often than women. This article (rather technical, by the way) offers one potential explanation: processing speed.

What is processing speed? It’s an unusually straightforward concept in psychology.

Imagine that I show you a piece of paper with several rows of different shapes. There might be a square, and then a star, and then a rectangle, and then a circle. And so forth.

To test your processing speed, I simply ask you to name all those shapes as quickly and accurately as you can. Or, I might ask you to say the colors of the shapes: the first one is green, the second is purple, and the third orange.

If you accomplish these tasks relatively quickly, you have a high processing speed.

Overall, women have slightly higher processing speed than men–especially in verbal tasks. The authors of this new study find that this difference in processing speed gives women an edge in reading fluency–and reduces the likelihood that they will be diagnosed with dyslexia.

There are no immediate teaching implications of this finding; however, anything that helps us understand how learning differences come to be…and, come to be diagnosed…might help us improve reading and learning in the future.


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