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Can anyone suggest why girls at 6 change their view of girls' ability to be brilliant?

(239 Posts)
Italiangreyhound Sat 28-Jan-17 20:33:32

Can anyone suggest why girls at 6 change their view of girls' ability to be brilliant?

Just that?

What's the cause?

www.theguardian.com/education/2017/jan/26/girls-believe-brilliance-is-a-male-trait-research-into-gender-stereotypes-shows

VestalVirgin Sun 29-Jan-17 12:08:14

I cannot tell you why exactly at 6, but I suppose that'd be because at that age, the messages they get from media and their environment have accumulated and managed to override their own common sense.

There is also research (at least I remember having read something about that some time ago) that parents and teachers like to attribute girls' achievements to hard work, rather than to innate brilliance, so that's probably the reason for that.

Italiangreyhound Sun 29-Jan-17 12:24:14

So it may be teachers passing on that message since before school parents already have influence.

Lessthanaballpark Tue 31-Jan-17 07:17:50

You look around you and see that most of the jobs that have high status are occupied by men.

You see on TV that most of the lead parts, are men (although not so bad now). Still, the male detective solves the crime with his genius and the female boss might be clever but is always a bit stroppy and never popular. There may be a few female scientists on TV but usually the show is about the genius social misfits who are all boys.

You learn that sport is very important and that boys are better at it. Of course girls can have a go but they won't be good enough to beat the boys. And being the best is important.

You see the history books are full of what men did. You ask what women did and get told not much, just bringing up children. You don't get told until later that it was because women were stopped in a variety of ways so think it was probably because they were a bit rubbish. You learn that women's lives couldn't have been that interesting.

Someone, a family member who you think is right about everything, tells you that boys are better at maths because they are more logical.

Your brother chucks you off his PlayStation because it's not for girls and you suspect he's right because the games are mostly about fighting and a bit boring anyway.

You hear phrases like "don't be a girl" and "man up" and get the impression that people find girls "catty" and "bitchy".

So you form the overall impression that yes whilst girls may work hard boys have a natural genius.

And if you get a bit annoyed about it you are seen as too sensitive and told that nothing is stopping you. So really it's down to you.

KatLovesCats Tue 31-Jan-17 11:04:34

^ what she said.

BarbarianMum Tue 31-Jan-17 12:31:39

Lessthana whilst i agree with all that in general, I'm having difficulty in relating it to the change that happens bw 5 and 6. It seems to me the answer must lie with starting school.

CrumblyMumbly Tue 31-Jan-17 12:39:14

I have always been mindful to avoid this with my daughter but have seen a few worrying trends since starting school. Talking about girls and boys toys and getting married so her husband can drive her to the seaside! I get annoyed when she is labelled as bossy when being mildly assertive too!

Italiangreyhound Tue 31-Jan-17 16:35:21

Yes BarbarianMum that was my thought, why then.

And Yes too Lessthanaballpark I 100% agree but just wondered why this was not the case prior to 6. I just wonder what exactly happens at 6. I can't think it is anything other than school which somehow solidifies all this negative programming.

Yes, 'bossy', other words might be 'strident', what else might our daughters get labelled at school that our boys do not. 'A little madam', what is the equivalent for boys, 'a little sir'???

Lessthanaballpark Tue 31-Jan-17 16:53:29

Maybe it's by that age that it sinks in.

Barbarian yes I would say starting school / nursery has a lot to do with it because that's when you start having larger amounts of peers to compare yourself to and to identify with. It's when adults start splitting you all into 2 distinct groups: boys and girls.

But it starts even before then. When you go to a toy shop and everything is split down the middle where you quickly learn that you belong on the pink pretty side.

Lessthanaballpark Tue 31-Jan-17 17:00:12

"'A little madam', what is the equivalent for boys, 'a little sir'???"

Yes, whilst "little madam" is seen as derogatory, note how boys get called "little man" in a positive way as if they are grown-up. I've even had men shake my son's hand in a "good man" way.

Mr Men. Little Miss. It's so pervasive and worse for being so because people just don't see it.

GieryFas Tue 31-Jan-17 17:00:33

School.

The massive difference between preschool - where the boys played with dolls and the girls played with cars (and vice versa) - and school, where some children policed playground games along gender lines was very stark.

Not helped by different staff attitudes. At preschool, children were very much encouraged to follow their interests, whatever those might be. At school there's so many of them, and relatively few adults, that it's easier to to be all 'girls can be princesses, boys can be superheroes'.

Added to that, some parents are quite 'boys are rough, girls like sitting quietly' in YR, moving on to 'boys are good at maths, girls are good at creative subjects' in later years, IME.

user1471446433 Tue 31-Jan-17 17:04:10

School.

Italiangreyhound Tue 31-Jan-17 17:42:20

Lessthanaballpark when my ds is a fussy little soul i call him "Little Lord Fauntleroy" (he doesn't get it)!

GieryFas very true.

Seachangeshell Tue 31-Jan-17 18:32:34

I'm a teacher and I'm always discussing issues around sexism with the children. They're year 3, so stuff comes up like 'football is a boys' game ' and 'pink is a girls' colour '. I am always aware of how I speak to the children and to use the same language with both. Not just for the girls ' sake but for the boys' too. They need to hear that it's good for them to be sensitive and kind too.
I've heard some sexist things from members of staff (very rarely teachers), but the most shocking things I've heard are from my school mum run friends from my son's school. A choice one was when someone said of their daughter ( in her earshot) 'Emma's not as good at reading as Tom'. Another mum said 'oh don't worry Emma. You are pretty, you just need to find a nice husband to earn all the money '. It was meant to be a joke.

Italiangreyhound Tue 31-Jan-17 20:45:03

seachangeshell I once heard a mum tell her daughter that the boys were naughty in class when she was there because she was so beautiful. I told the girl it was nothing to do with her if they boys were naughty. I was so shocked at the mum I just did not know what to say!

Who thinks like that!

I'd heard that teachers these days were meant to de-emphasise "clever" (innate), and praise students for their hard work instead. But that's not taking away from the sexism.

I'd heard that teachers these days were meant to de-emphasise "clever" (innate), and praise students for their hard work instead. But that's not taking away from the sexism.

leccybill Wed 01-Feb-17 09:15:08

I hope I'm bucking the trend somewhat (as a teacher and parent of a 6 year old, I would not use stereotypical language about gender).

My DD has a female teacher, headteacher, caretaker, I'm the main earner in our house, we talk about the PM and the Queen leading the country.... she thinks women hold all the cards, and I hope it stays that way!

PurpleMcPants Wed 01-Feb-17 09:24:30

I have a 6 year old DD and there is definitely a tendency creeping in to categorise things as boys and girls things which we never do at home. I challenge it every time and point out how silly it is to think every girl should like pink and every boy should like football etc. I've taught all of them about suffrage and gender inequality and will continue to as they get older

ppeatfruit Wed 01-Feb-17 11:29:35

How about asking the girls the same question at age 9 or 10 ?. I say that because sometimes girls and boys of around the age of 6 are biologically programmed to discover and identify with their sex. It's a stage they grow through IME.

dd1 and dd2 Have innate cleverness and had no trouble succeeding at school or uni. With little 'hard work'.

Raines100 Wed 01-Feb-17 14:51:17

Another thought is that, at 6 and 7, there is a real difference in the way in which Maths and English are taught.

There is an immediacy to Maths, e.g. 'Put up your hand if you know what 2+2 equals.' Ability can be demonstrated in the classroom in front of everyone. Writing simple equations '2+2=4' is straightforward and children ca mark each other's work. The children will know who is good at Maths and will hear teachers say that those children are clever.

Learning to read, however, doesn't happen demonstrably in front of everyone, so no one knows who is best at it. Girls are usually have neater handwriting as their fine motor skills develop quicker, but we don't say they're clever for that. We say they have neat, beautiful handwriting, which conforms to the stereotype of girl's appearance being the important thing. It's much later that the content of a child's writing is judged rather than the letter formation, etc.

I distinctly remember the 'clever' kids in my year 3 class in primary school were 3 boys who were good at maths. It was only when I got to year 6 that I found out I was clever too, and I was best at English.

OhtoblazeswithElvira Wed 01-Feb-17 15:03:34

School as well IMO.

DD is 6 and around 5 she started coming up with gems she hasn't picked up at home:
"Pink is a girls' colour. Blue is only for boys"
"Harry says girls can't X, Y and Z"
"Only boys can play with X"

Loved Harry's face when DD was the first in the class to ride a bike without stabilisers <smug>.

And yes, very gendered games in the playground. When DD tried to join in a football game the other players (all boys) would ignore her, with a mixture of bemusement and contempt that really belongs with adults.

Our school staff reinforce traditional roles with passing comments:
"Typical girl"
"He's just being a boy"
Shut up angry

I always tell DD that colours are just colours, toys are just toys, boys and girls are people and people can do anything and like anything. But the world is telling her otherwise and now she is old enough to see that. It's so sad.

DEMum101 Wed 01-Feb-17 15:52:52

VestalVirgin "There is also research (at least I remember having read something about that some time ago) that parents and teachers like to attribute girls' achievements to hard work, rather than to innate brilliance, so that's probably the reason for that."

That's a bit worrying actually as I have been deliberately making an effort to praise DD for her hard work when she does well rather than call her clever because I read somewhere that it is better to praise a child for something they can control and do something about (how hard they work) rather than something innate over which they have no control (cleverness). I wouldn't like to think that as a result of that she might get the idea she is less clever than a boy!

DEMum101 Wed 01-Feb-17 15:55:24

And I agree with people who say that parents are terrible for this. One the other day made a throw away remark about how boys find Maths easier and girls are better at literacy. I pointed out that this didn't apply to all girls - certainly not DD who can do her Maths homework in a few minutes but has to be pursued round the house to read one of the school books!

Harriedharriet Wed 01-Feb-17 16:38:53

How about asking the girls the same question at age 9 or 10 ?. I say that because sometimes girls and boys of around the age of 6 are biologically programmed to discover and identify with their sex. It's a stage they grow through IME. dd1 and dd2 Have innate cleverness and had no trouble succeeding at school or uni. With little 'hard work'.

Agree with this. I have three dd two of whom went through a stage and are now firmly out the other side! poor boys actually...😅However, am surprised by their (young, female teachers) who constantly divide the class up by boys and girls. Boys in one line girls in the other type thing. When I asked them why they did it like that (I was curious!) they said it never occurred to them to manage it in any other way! That "filing" permiates everything unbeknown to them.
Put "Girls are Best" by Sandy Toskvig on the curriculum!

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