A recent study on gender stereotypes found that American girls believe being "really, really smart" is a trait associated with boys and men, The Guardian reports.
Researchers at New York University conducted tests with 200 boys and 200 girls between the ages of 5 and 7. In one study, the children were read a story about an extremely smart person, then asked to guess the person's gender. In another study, the children were shown pictures of adults of different sexes and asked to pick who they thought was intelligent. A third study asked children to match traits, including "being smart," to photos of men and women.
Taken together, the results reveal that girls of 5 years old are just as likely as boys to associate brilliance with their own gender. However, for those aged 6 and 7, girls were less likely than boys to make the association: among 6-year-olds, boys chose people of their own gender as "really, really smart" 65 percent of the time while girls only selected their gender as brilliant 48 percent of the time.
The study then explored which gender was expected by children to do better academically at school. The team found that while girls aged 5 to 7 were more likely than boys to associate their own gender with good grades, they did not link such achievements to brilliance. [The Guardian]
"Because these ideas are present at such an early age, they have so much time to affect the educational trajectories of boys and girls," said Andrei Cimpian, the co-author of the New York University study.