One of the greatest aspects that affect our lives is our self-esteem. We have to believe that we are capable before we can really make a go of something, and that concept is thought to be gender-less in children…until now. According to a recent study cited in a recent NBC News article, little girls don’t believe that women are smarter than men.
The article is a bit involved, but worth the read. Here’s a bit about the first part of the study, which involved 400 children aged 5-7, when they were told a story of someone who is “really, really smart,” and asked to identify that person between photos of two men and two women of the same age and professional dress:
“At 5, both boys and girls tended to associate brilliance with their own gender, meaning that most girls chose women and most boys chose men. But as they became older and began attending school, children apparently began endorsing gender stereotypes. At 6 and 7, girls were ‘significantly less likely’ to pick women. The results were similar when the kids were shown photos of children. Interestingly, when asked to select children who look like they do well in school, as opposed to being smart, girls tended to pick girls, which means that their perceptions of brilliance are not based on academic performance.”
There’s more to the study, but this is alarming when it comes to the future of our girls and their confidence in choosing challenging careers or academic pursuits. The researchers are unaware of where the bias sets in, but parents, family, the media, and their peers are the “usual suspects.” We have a responsibility to support girls in their self-esteem and learning. This type of discouragement can hamper self-esteem, confidence, and growth throughout their lives, and we owe it to all children to give them equal opportunities to become the best they can be.