Can Women Be Brilliant? Some Young Girls Aren't So Sure

New research suggests that girls, starting at age 6, are less likely than boys to believe their own gender is "really, really smart."
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Can Women Be Brilliant? Some Young Girls Aren't So Sure

Gender stereotypes may affect girls as early as the first grade.

A recent study found that girls, starting at age 6, are less likely than boys to believe their own gender is "really, really smart."

They're also more likely than boys to shy away from activities "for children who are really, really smart."

One of the study's authors told Mashable, "We found it surprising, and also very heartbreaking, that even kids at such a young age have learned these stereotypes."

Interestingly, researchers discovered this type of thinking isn't present in 5-year-olds but rapidly develops by ages 6 and 7.

More importantly, researchers believe these stereotypes could be discouraging young women from pursuing careers in science, technology, engineering and mathematics, also known as the STEM fields.

That's a big problem, considering men outnumber women in many of those fields.

It's unclear exactly where these stereotypes come from. Researchers say they believe the usual suspects — parents, teachers, peers and marketing — play a role in forming them.

And they're still trying to figure out how to correct them. In the meantime, scientists recommend teaching young girls that hard work is the key ingredient to success, not a genetic stroke of luck.

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