For years, scientists have suggested that women are worse at reading maps than men.
A great-selling popular science book a few years ago even had the title "Why men do not listen and women can not read maps."
The research conducted on more than half a million people in 57 countries shows in general that this idea remains true: women are even worse in general than men in navigation.
But the fairer sex is closing the gap, according to the investigation.
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The research conducted on more than half a million people in 57 countries shows in general that this idea remains true: women are even worse in general than men in navigation. But the fairer sex is closing the gap, according to the investigation (stock)
In countries where women have advanced more in the workplace and society, such as the United Kingdom, Australia and the United States, women are better at sailing than in countries where the role of women in society is less advanced, such as Egypt. .
Research by scientists at University College London and the University of East Anglia was based on a mobile phone game that tests navigation skills.
Called Sea Hero Quest, it simulates travel by sea, using landmarks and reading maps, and was originally developed to help with dementia research.
In general, diminishing navigation skills decline gradually as we age between the ages of 18 and 60, but it often worsens significantly in Alzheimer's patients.
The co-author of the study, Dr. Antoine Coutrot of the French National Center for Scientific Research, said: "Our findings suggest that sexual differences in cognitive abilities are not fixed but are influenced by cultural environments such as the role of women in the society".
The researchers said the difference in navigation between men and women is well documented, but the underlying cause is still debated.
The authors note that other researchers have found a similar effect on mathematical ability: in countries where the gender gap between men and women is narrowest, women are better at math.
The difference in navigation between men and women is well documented, but there is still debate about the underlying cause (stock)
BOX OF LEAGUES OF COUNTRIES FOLLOWED BY FEMALE CONDUCTOR NAVIGATION SKILLS
3 New Zealand
8 The Netherlands
10 United Kingdom
16 South Africa
17 Hong Kong
24 Czech Republic
50 Saudi Arabia
The ability to navigate also varies by country. The country that obtained the best qualification in navigation was Finland, followed by Denmark, New Zealand, Canada and Norway. The United Kingdom ranked tenth.
The authors suggest that higher car driving rates may explain a higher capacity in navigation rather than countries where the use of public transport is more common.
But this does not explain why the Nordic countries, where the use of public transport is high, also performed well.
The superior performance of the Nordic countries may have to do with the sport of guidance, which is taught in schools in Scandinavia and involves reading maps, the authors suggest.
The research was published in the journal Current Biology.