A new study into gender stereotypes has found that girls as young as five believe that intelligence, skill and brilliance is a male trait and it needs to stop now.
When complimenting a Young girl, do you praise how pretty and beautiful they look or emphasise their intelligence and abilities?
Of course, neither are mutually exclusive, but it’s always been a question I’ve debated when thinking about how I would instill confidence when bringing up a future daughter. So, it comes with great sadness that new research has found that girls as young as six-years-old see brilliance a male characteristic.
Research into Gender Stereotypes from the US – published in the journal Science – has found that girls see themselves as less talented than boys their own age, and don’t think that achieving good marks in school has anything to do with innate abilities, according to the Guardian.
Andrei Cimpian, a co-author of the research from New York University, explained the research suggested how even young children can be influenced by Gender stereotypes and the belief that men are naturally more gifted than women.
‘Because these ideas are present at such an early age, they have so much time to affect the educational trajectories of boys and girls,’ he told the newspaper. The study involved three US-based universities carrying out several tests with 400 children – half of whom where girls – to find out the extent of influence gender stereotypes play on a child’s understanding of intelligence and skill.
Tests involved a group of 96 mixed-gender children aged five to seven reading a story about an intelligent person before guessing the person’s gender.Another found the children presented with pictures showing pairs of adults – some same-sex, others opposite sex – and asking them to pick the couples they thought were highly intelligent. A third study saw the group asked to match objects and traits, such as ‘being smart’ to images of both sexes, according to the Guardian
Dame Athene Donald, professor of experimental physics at the University of Cambridge, told the Guardian: ‘If we are to facilitate a gender-balanced workforce of engineers, mathematicians and physicists in the future it is clear interventions at secondary school just aren’t going to be sufficient.’
Let’s get to work.