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Kristin MacLaughlin, VP Consumer Marketing for Content Watch, mother of three and always in search of ways that technology can help simplify and connect families.
July 24, 2012Net Nanny for Android 2.0
Feb 26, 2017
A recent article published in Science and the New York Times ignited an uproar in social and mass media when they reported that young girls don’t think they are as smart as boys. The study concluded that:”By the age of 6, girls are less likely than boys to believe that members of their gender are ‘really, really smart’ -- a child-friendly way of referring to brilliance. Also at age 6, the girls in these studies begin to shy away from novel activities said to be for children who are ‘really, really smart’. This stereotype begins to shape children’s interests as soon as it is acquired and is thus likely to narrow the range of careers they will one day contemplate.”
As a parent and a proud working mom, I was horrified to read their findings and could recall times when my own child had told me she was not smart enough.
Many publications had an issue with this study, including Forbes Magazine, who stated, “The results are being widely interpreted as showing that girls are less confident about their intelligence from a young age, when in fact, careful reading of the article reveals exactly the opposite: from as early as six years of age, girls are much more aware of their true strengths and potential, and they realize that working hard and being nice are more valuable traits than being ‘smart’ and more closely linked to success.”
As a parent, I like Forbes sugar-coated interpretation better, but it still caused me to reflect on something: How can girls think they are not as smart as boys? As much as I would love to blame it on our selfie-addicted, technology obsessed culture; was good old-fashioned parenting also to blame?
On my quest to understand how today’s girls could feel that boys are smarter, I did some research on what American parents googled. American parents Googled “Is my son a genius? “more than twice as often as “Is my daughter a genius?” In regards to physical appearances, “Is my daughter overweight?” was googled 70 percent more often than “Is my son overweight?” (Even though, statistically boys are slightly overweight than girls).
If the studies show children as young as six feel boys are smarter, how do we counteract them from internalizing such stereotypes from going into careers they see as requiring brilliance? Per an interview with Andrei Cimpian, one of the lead researchers from the study, “Instilling a growth mindset in children making them think that they can succeed by really throwing themselves into what they’re interested in can really buffer them against these stereotypes,” Cimpian said.
First, don’t over-react. Take a moment to reflect on how much women have accomplished, and it is never too soon to share with your daughters a little history of the women’s movement. A hundred years ago, women did not have the right to vote. Women could not even be granted credit for a credit card without their husband’s signature up until the Equal Credit Opportunity Act of 1974. In 2014, the first woman won a Nobel Peace Prize in mathematics. Even if you did not vote for her, in 2016, a woman was nominated to run for President of the United States. Sometimes we all forget how far we have come in a short period.
The key to empowering our daughter’s confidence and self-worth is to help them find their passion, so consider taking any of the following 5 simple steps.
Ultimately, it is our job as parents to encourage our children to find their passions in life and give our daughters the self-confidence that they are, in fact, smart enough.