Why Do Girls Believe Brilliance Is A Male Trait? Study Reveals


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Psychology News

A group of international researchers revealed how most children believe that brilliance is a male trait, thanks to their parents. The study is published in the journal Child Development.

The Study

The team of researchers from Nanyang Technological University, Singapore, and New York University surveyed 389 Chinese Singaporean parents and 342 of their children, aged between 8 to 12 years.

In order to understand how the gender stereotype “brilliance equals to men” is perpetrated from a young age, the researchers carried out an extensive study in several phases.

The researchers used the Implicit Association Test (IAT) to evaluate parents’ and children’s approaches to gender stereotypes around intellectual abilities.

The participants were asked to take the Implicit Association Test (IAT), as well as categorize photographs of men and women and label them with words related to ‘brilliance’. The responses of the parent-child pairs were then compared.

The Findings

The results revealed that parents play a key role in their children’s acquisition of the ‘brilliance equals to men’ stereotype. In fact, the gender stereotype increases in strength through the primary school years and reaches the level of belief seen in adults by the age of 13. However, in adulthood, the belief ebbs away or changes due to more independent developmental experiences.

The researchers further elaborated: “Stereotypical views about how boys are smarter than girls can take root in childhood and become a self-fulfilling prophecy. [The study adds to the growing] evidence that the gender imbalances observed in many prestigious careers are not a function of differences between women and men in their inherent aptitudes or interests … but the product of [social] messages. As a society, we have a responsibility to work toward addressing this issue.

To Know More You May Refer To

Zhao, S., Setoh, P., Storage, D., & Cimpian, A. (2022). The acquisition of the gender-brilliance stereotype: Age trajectory, relation to parents’ stereotypes, and intersections with race/ethnicity. Child development, 10.1111/cdev.13809. Advance online publication. https://doi.org/10.1111/cdev.13809

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