Young girls are less likely to think they're 'really, really smart' than boys are

By age 6, girls start to believe stereotypes.

Young girls are less likely to think women are really, really smart, showing false stereotypes could affect what girls grow up to be.

That's according to a study by New York University that published in the journal Science Thursday. Researchers wanted to figure out if kids believe the stereotypes that are given to their gender – and it turns out, girls as young as 6 do.

"Our society tends to associate brilliance with men more than with women, and this notion pushes women away from jobs that are perceived to require brilliance," Lin Bian, who led the research, said.

For the study, researchers worked with kids ages 5-7, finding that by age 6 girls are less likely than boys to think women are brilliant – 65 percent of 6-year-old boys said their own gender was smart, compared to 48 percent for girls.

For 7-year-olds, it was 68 percent for boys and 54 percent for girls.

Also, 6- and 7-year-old girls were less likely to be interested in games that are described as being for kids who are "really, really smart."

This wasn't the case for 5-year-old girls, though. They thought their own gender was brilliant at nearly the same rate as 5-year-old boys.

“Even though the stereotype equating brilliance with men doesn’t match reality, it might nonetheless take a toll on girls’ aspirations and on their eventual careers,” Andrei Cimpian, the paper’s senior author, said.

Sarah-Jane Leslie, who contributed to the study, says earlier research shows these stereotypes are present in adulthood, too. Adult women were less likely to get higher degrees in fields thought to require "brilliance" – like STEM and humanities.

That, coupled with this most recent research, shows "these stereotypes begin to impact girls' choices at a heartbreakingly young age," Leslie said.

Researchers do say more work needs to be done to determine how broadly this applies, though.

Next Up


Minneapolis police seeks public help finding missing woman

A 63-year-old woman has been missing since Tuesday

coronavirus testing

Don't want to talk to a contact tracer? MN debuts online option after positive test

The department says the survey will allow its staff to keep track of more cases at a faster pace

Family Dollar

Money Gal Coaching: 12 things you are wasting your money on

Kelly Blodgett started Money Gal Coaching after paying down nearly $50K in debt in 18 months.

police lights

Three teens charged in Minneapolis robberies

The incidents took place on Saturday in Minneapolis.

covid-19, coronavirus, ppe

Here is Minnesota's COVID-19 update for Thursday, January 21

It's the first time in exactly four months that Minnesota has had fewer than 100 COVID patients in intensive care.

icy roads, bad roads

Girl, 16, killed in crash with semi on icy Minnesota road

The crash happened in Dodge County around 8 a.m. Wednesday.

police lights

Road rage incident sees driver punch out man's window, punch him in face

The incident happened in Waite Park Wednesday morning.

Screen Shot 2019-10-11 at 7.01.24 AM

Minneapolis will recover $100K in costs connected to 2019 Trump rally

The Target Center operator said it'll pay the costs over three years.

Jacob Frey

Minneapolis Mayor Jacob Frey confirms run for reelection

He has faced criticism over the city's response to George Floyd's death.

Kirk Cousins

Coller: How far away are the Vikings from playing championship weekend?

Matthew Coller writes a weekly Vikings column for BMTN, with more of his work found at Purple Insider.


College students are binge drinking less than they used to

But what about adults of the same age who aren't in college?

Boy Scouts will now allow girls

There will be programs so girls can get the Eagle Scout rank.

It could take 170 years for women and men to get the same salary

The gender pay gap in the United States is getting worse.

More than half of people will believe fake memories they're told, study finds

If you're told you went up in a hot air balloon as a kid, there's a pretty good chance you'll believe it.

ACLU defends MN transgender student in lawsuit over locker room use

Parents filed a lawsuit saying a male student who identifies as female acted inappropriately in the girls locker room.

Black bicyclists are likely stopped by police more than white bicyclists, report says

It's likely that black bicyclists are stopped and cited more often for minor violations than white bicyclists.

Teens who eat healthy are more likely to keep eating healthy as young adults, study suggests

“Those who had a higher-quality diet were not thinner at age 15, but became thinner by age 20 and 25, particularly if they reinforced their tendency to eat more closely to the 2015 Dietary Guidelines for Americans as time passed," said the lead author.

If you're young and have savings, you're doing better than most

Millennials aren't saving for the future, but they're optimistic about it anyway.