Gender Differences in Children’s Language: A Meta-Analysis of Slovenian Studies

  • Ljubica Marjanovič-Umek
  • Urška Fekonja-Peklaj
Keywords: meta-analysis, gender differences, language ability


Child gender has been proved to affect toddlers’/children’s language development in several studies, but its effect was not found to be stable across different ages or various aspects of language ability. The effect of gender on toddler’s, children’s and adolescents’ language ability was examined in the present meta-analysis of ten Slovenian studies (nine cross-sectional
studies and one longitudinal study). The ten studies were published between 2004 and 2016 and included a total of 3,657 toddlers, children and adolescents, aged from 8 months to 15 years. The language outcome measures refer to different aspects of language ability, including vocabulary, mean length of utterance, sentence complexity, language expression and
comprehension, storytelling ability and metalinguistic awareness. Across the studies, language ability was assessed using different approaches and instruments, most of which were standardised on samples of Slovenianspeaking children. Based on the reported arithmetic means and standard deviations, the effect sizes of gender for each of the included studies were
calculated, as well as the average effect size of gender across the different studies. The findings of the meta-analysis showed that the effect size of gender on  toddlers’/children’s/adolescents’ language largely depended on  their age and the aspect of language measured. The effect sizes increased with children’s increasing age. All significant effects proved to be in favour of girls. The findings were interpreted in relation to the characteristics of language development and social cultural factors that can contribute to
gender differences in language ability. 


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