Girls Are Less Likely To Think That Women Are Super Smart : Shots - Health News Girls are less likely to identify their own gender as brilliant than boys are, even at age 5. One question is whether it's the girls who need to change their thinking about innate intelligence.

Young Girls Are Less Apt To Think That Women Are Really, Really Smart

Researchers are trying to tease apart the reasons why girls are less likely to become scientists and engineers. Marc Romanelli/Getty Images/Blend Images hide caption

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Marc Romanelli/Getty Images/Blend Images

Girls in the first few years of elementary school are less likely than boys to say that their own gender is "really, really smart," and less likely to opt into a game described as being for super-smart kids, research finds.

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HED: Young Girls Less Likely to Associate Their Gender With Brilliance

The study, which appears Thursday in Science, comes amid a push to figure out why women are underrepresented in science, technology, engineering and mathematics, or STEM, fields. One line of research involves stereotypes, and how they might influence academic and career choices.

DEK: The research also showed that little girls were less likely to opt for a game described as being for really, really smart kids than little boys.

Andrei Cimpian, a professor of psychology at New York University and an author of the study, says his lab's previous work showed that women were particularly underrepresented in both STEM and humanities fields whose members thought you needed to be brilliant — that is, to have innate talent — to succeed.

"You might think these stereotypes start in college, but we know from a lot of developmental work that children are incredibly attuned to social signals," Cimpian says. So they decided to look at kids from ages 5 to 7, the period during which stereotypes seem to start to take hold.

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The researchers conducted a series of experiments that included 400 children. In one, they took 96 kids and asked them a series of questions about brilliance and gender. For example, they were told a brief story about a person who was "really, really smart" and then asked to pick the protagonist from four photos, two of men and two of women.

http://www.npr.org/2017/01/08/508842213/hidden-figures-a-hit-with-young-women-of-color-interested-in-stem

Across the various questions, 5-year-old boys said their own gender was smart 71 percent of the time, compared to 69 percent of the time for girls. Among 6-year-olds, the numbers were 65 percent for boys and 48 percent for girls. And among 7-year-olds, it was 68 percent for boys and 54 percent for girls.

http://www.npr.org/2016/06/24/483126798/should-we-stop-telling-kids-theyre-smart

"The surprising thing is that already, by age 6, girls and boys are saying different things," says Sapna Cheryan, an associate professor of psychology at the University of Washington who wasn't involved with the research. "Before they've heard of physics or computer science they are getting these messages."

http://www.npr.org/2016/06/15/482123559/research-explores-ways-to-overcome-stem-fields-gender-gap

Another experiment showed that even as older girls were less likely to associate their own gender with brilliance, they (correctly) assessed that at their age, girls were more likely to get good grades in school.

Girls in the first few years of elementary school are less likely than boys to say that their own gender is "really, really smart," and less likely to opt into a game described as being for super-smart kids, research finds.

And another experiment asked 6- and 7-year-olds about the appeal of two similar imaginary games, one intended for "children who are really, really smart," and one for "children who try really, really hard." Girls were less interested than boys in the game aimed at smart kids but interest was similar in the game for hard workers.