Print Edition - 2017-02-02  |  Health and Living

Children’s health

Feb 2, 2017-


Girls feel ‘less talented’ by age six

Girls start to see themselves as less innately talented than boys do when they are only six years old, a group of US researchers has said. They said the “disheartening” results suggested the problem could snowball to affect future careers. The study on 400 children, in the journal Science, initially found both five-year-old boys and girls thought their own gender was “brilliant”. But then only one year later, gender differences had emerged.

The team from Princeton University, New York University and the University of Illinois said it appeared stereotypes were starting to show. Suspected influences include exposure to media, teachers, parents and other children. In one study, the children aged five to seven were read a story about someone who is “really, really smart” but it is not clear who the story is about. They then had to guess the protagonist from four pictures—two of men and two of women.

At age five, boys pick men and girls pick women around 75 percent of the time. But fast-forward a year to age six and boys are still picking men while girls are now slightly more likely to pick men too. In another scenario, groups of children played a new board game. But for some it was branded as “for children who are really, really smart” and for others it was described as “for children who try really, really hard”. Six and seven-year old girls were as likely as boys to enjoy the game for those who try, but much less likely to say they enjoy the game for smart children. Prof Andrei Cimpian, one of the researchers, told the BBC News website: “The message that comes out of these data is that young kids are exposed to the cultural notion that genius is more likely a male than a female quality.”

Published: 02-02-2017 09:11

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