Girls start to believe gender stereotypes that could hold them back for life by the time they are six years old

“The results suggest that children’s ideas about brilliance exhibit rapid changes over the period from ages 5 to 7,” the authors wrote.

“Girls are already starting to think that doing well at school is a matter of following the rules and paying attention,” says Cimpian. To some extent that’s true, he said, but at the same time, “they are ignoring objective evidence in front of them when judging who is really, really smart.”

The results, the study authors concluded, are bleak. “Many children assimilate the idea that brilliance is a male quality at a young age,” they write. “This stereotype begins to shape children’s interests as soon as it is acquired and is thus likely to narrow the range of careers they will one day contemplate.”

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