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Study Shows Young Girls Think Brilliance Is Just For Boys

flickr / Monica H.

Your kid doesn’t have to play model UN with their stuffed animals to prove they’re a genius. You’ve probably been on board with this assumption ever since they stopped shoving cheddar bunnies up their nose. But a new study published in the journal Science suggests that you shouldn’t just brag to all the other parents about that. You should tell your kid how smart they are — especially if you have a daughter who’s about to turn 6.

Researchers at New York University conducted a series of experiments with 200 boys and 200 girls between the ages of 5 and 7. Children were told a story about a “really, really smart” person, and then asked to guess their gender. Kids were also shown pictures of adults of different sexes and asked to pick who was more intelligent. Overall, 5-year-old girls associated brilliance with their gender as much as boys. But for 6 and 7-year-olds, boys related their gender to intelligence 65 percent of the time — compared to girls, who only did this 48 percent of the time. Sadly, the simple fix isn’t a brain cake for their sixth birthday. That will only lead to more tiny zombies.

Similarly, researchers found that girls were more likely to associate their gender to good grades, but not with brilliance itself. “Already by this young age girls are discounting the evidence that is in front of their eyes and basing their ideas about who is really, really smart on other things,” said Andrei Cimpian, co-author of the research. He suspects these stereotypes about brilliance have discouraged women from fields like maths and physics, and hopes more studies like this will lead to more interventions. Because your daughter has the intelligence of an engineer needed to bridge this gap. But now, you have to tell her that — over, and over, and over again.

[H/T] The Guardian