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Research showing girls start shying away from "smart people stuff" at age 5

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I pulled DD after K, and one of the final straws was hearing her moan that "addition is SO HARD" when she had been happily keeping a running total for me at the grocery store for several years. She also became more and more reluctant to read in front of other people, and when picked to read the scripture in chapel, did so haltingly, with none of the fluency that she had entered K displaying. Basically, she learned in K how to not look too smart. She STILL self-depricates more than I think she should, cutting herself down and devaluing her accomplishments, and I think a big part of it is that she has picked up that it's not wise to be too smart.

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This seems to be directly opposed to actual results, aka "the gender gap" where elementary girls outperform elementary boys generally. Interesting...

The study addressed this somewhat--when asked which person was most likely to get good grades, the girls tended to pick females over males.


But when asked which person was smart, they didn't favor females (sounds like they also didn't favor males but were more even handed whereas boys favored boys and younger girls favored girls? I wasn't able to access the full report.)


Male and female brains are developing differently at that age, with females generally ahead in linguistic ability and males in visual-spacial (including math) abilities. I wonder if the emphasis on STEM is actually playing some role here--the stuff boys on average are good at at that age is the "more important" stuff?

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I've always felt blessed to have not had this experience growing up. I did grow up in a more matriarchal family and truly believed women were fully capable. My DD IS 5 and still believes girls are smarter. I'm hoping to continue this belief by encouraging her in her abilities. Science and math are natural interests of hers so we shall see. When I was in highschool the majority of my AP Math and science classes were girls.

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On the plus side the girls in the study didn't seem to have an issue with growth mindset. They eschewed games for people who are "really, really smart" but not games for people who work "really, really hard". Given research that indicates a "smart" label can actually be detrimental to kids' willingness to attempt hard things, I am not sure that this study is 100% negative.

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