Once upon a time, there was a story about a person who was “really, really smart.” The tale was told to children by authors of a study, who gave no hints to the youngsters about the person’s gender. When the story was over, the kids were shown four adults, two men and two women, and asked to guess who the main character was. The five-year-olds awesomely associated it with their own genders, but as they got a little older, it became a little worrisome. The majority of six- and seven-year-olds leaned towards the men as the brilliant ones. The end.
Researchers found that boys said men were likely to be “really, really smart” 65% of the time, while girls believed women as “really, really smart” only 48% of the time. What’s more concerning is that the girls in the study averaged better grades than the boys in their class, but didn’t associate their achievements with brilliance. So not only do they think they’re less likely to become brilliant, they also don’t believe they are. And that can influence their futures.
Andrei Cimpian, co-author of the study and NYU associate professor of psychology, told the Associated Press that he and his colleagues weren’t able to nail down the exact origins of these damaging ideas about gender and intelligence, but Mic points out that magazines for girls versus boys’ mags aren’t helping.
“Why are you feminists always complaining? We treat boys and girls exactly the same.” pic.twitter.com/F4EFTzSJGI
— JenAshleyWright (@JenAshleyWright) September 1, 2016
Nope, no way. We refuse to believe that that’s the end of the story. Yes, the results of the study are hardly surprising (maybe the most difficult to swallow about all this) and gender stereotypes starting at such a young age are kind of devastating, so what does that mean? We need to do better to change this mindset, that’s what.
Girls need to start believing and knowing they are just as smart as (and often smarter than) boys. They need to know gender doesn’t, nor should it, play a factor when it comes to intelligence. Tell your daughter she’s smart before telling her she’s beautiful. Maybe if she always hears how brilliant she is she’ll actually believe it.