Gender Differences in Motor Performance in Early Childhood and Later Adulthood

in Women in Sport and Physical Activity Journal
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The purposes of this review article are to: 1) present empirical studies which have compared the development of motor skills for boys and girls in the early childhood years, 2) present studies which have made gender comparisons for similar and related motor skills for older adults, and 3) make comparisons between the younger and older age group literature in terms of gender and causal factors contributing to gender differences. It was concluded that: 1) young boys and older men are superior to young girls and older women in power-dependent skills. Biological and environmental factors were discussed as they relate to gender differences in one power-dependent skill, throwing, throughout the life-span, and 2) young girls excel at hopping, skipping, hand-eye coordination, limb and body control, and balance tasks compared to young boys. Of these tasks, balance and hand-eye coordination are the only skills which are typically measured for young children and older adults. For balance in older age, the results are equivocal but suggestions were made for understanding why women may have lost their performance advantage in older adulthood. For hand-eye coordination, women are not clearly better than men as they were in youth. Reasons for life-span changes are suggested.

Tonya Toole is an Associate Professor in the Department of Nutrition, Food, and Movement Sciences, Florida State University. Her current research includes neuromuscular balance control for those with Parkinson’s Disease. She has been invited to present her research on healthy older adults, exercise, and cognitive/motor function at the International Sport Psychology Congress, Lisbon, Portugal, Summer, 1993.

Judith Kretzschmar is an Associate Professor in the Department of Human Performance, Concordia University, River Forest, IL. She teaches in the areas of growth and motor development and early childhood movement experiences. These topics are often presented by Judy at workshops and conferences.

Women in Sport and Physical Activity Journal
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