According to a recent study referenced in a CNN article, entitled “Girls feel less ‘smart’ than boys by age six, research says,” young girls have already begun the shift to avoid activities requiring intelligence, thinking members of their own gender are intellectually inferior to boys and that they are not “smart enough”.
The research suggests that American children are honing in on cultural stereotypes at an earlier age and unfortunately, the stereotypes all suggest that boys are smarter than girls. Findings also reveal that parents may inadvertently reinforce this mindset, even though they do not verbally express it, by googling and researching things such as, “What IQ does my son have to have to be considered a genius?” versus “What diets are geared towards preteen and teenage girls?”
The children sampled for the research study were told two stories about a “really really smart” person and a “really really nice” person. When asked to identify which person was male and which female, the six-year-old girls and boys were more likely to associate the “smart” person with being male.
What can we do to help our daughters know that they are just as smart and capable as the boys?
Steer clear of stereotypes When someone says, “oh, isn’t she pretty” respond, “yes, and she’s really good as Science and Math.” It may seem a bit pretentious or even a rude, but watch your daughter’s face beam from the compliment and her confidence soar in subjects that are typically male dominated.
Be wary of media messages Subliminal or not, messages in the media, at times, emphasize stereotypes that reinforce the IQ quandary. Make sure that your daughter is surrounded by positive role models that can strike a pose as well as challenge a few new theories on quantum physics.
Don’t be afraid to put girls in “boys only clubs” Have your daughter sign-up for the robotics club, the chess club, or even the pee-wee football team. Who says that girls can’t and won’t excel at these activities? If they don’t like it, at least they gave it a try.
Never tell your daughter that she “can’t” Always be a beacon of positivity and make sure that she knows that there is nothing out there in the world that she can’t do if she puts her mind to it. You be her loudest cheerleader. Teach her to think outside of the box and shoot beyond the stars.