‘Girls consider themselves less innately talented than boys when they are only six years old’
A study from the journal ‘Science’ was reported on by the BBC last week. It suggested that girls consider themselves less innately talented than boys when they are only six years old. It went on to say that the problem could affect future careers.
One of the findings involved two games. One was labelled for children who are really, really smart and the other for those who try really, really hard. Girls were far more likely to choose the second option unlike their male counterparts.
It is concerning that cultural biases influence children so early in their development but there are ways to mitigate and reverse these trends. Building girls’ self-confidence and removing them from stereotypical situations is an ideal counter. We are uniquely placed at single-sex schools to encourage girls to follow routes that are often male-dominated. Our girls do not realise that, for example, mathematics and science are considered as boys subjects
by society. For them they are simply an exciting part of their school day and just as important as any other topics. We can also tailor our PSHE programme to focus on challenging traditional categorisations as we focus on maintaining their self-efficacy.
Another way of building growth mind-sets is to emphasise the importance of hard work over simply being clever. Disabusing girls of the need to be naturally talented in order to always succeed helps them to try something that they might fail at. Our work on core competencies and skills, rather than relying on ability alone, goes a long way to promote their interests.
The final statement in the story is as follows.
‘Our research found that young women experience gender stereotypes at school from an early age.’
At Portsmouth High School they certainly do not.