Blog Post

Fairy Princess or Doctor, or Both?

news anchor barbie and engineer barbie

A new study has recently been published revealing that youngs girls ages 6-7 do not believe that women are able to be as smart and successful as men. 

Found here, the article discussing this topic explains how the study went about and it's quite interesting how it played out. Apparently, at the ages of 5, both boys and girls chose their own gender as being the smarter of a man and woman, both dressed to similar degrees and with happy faces. As school starts for these children, for some reason girls are actually changing their minds and were significantly less likely to pick the women. A peculiar side fact, was that at the same ages, when asked to pick one picture that looked like they did wel in school, as opposed to justbeing smart, girls were more likely to pick the women. The conductors of the study decided that this means that their perception of brilliance was not based on academic performance. 

Because girls are skeptical of their own potential, they tend to shy away from harder fields. I thought that this was being changed nowadays with all of the "Girls Who Code", "Women in Engineering" "Women in Medicine" etc... initiatives. Apparently it hasn't changed from the bottom up yet though. Social media is something that can perpetuate this. My computer science professor once told me that even though women typically do better in their classes, when he talks to his students about how they think they're doing, the men usually think they are doing better than they actually are and women are less confident about their grades and think they are not doing as well. This carries over in the actual classroom because the men will be more willing to talk in class, more likely to post something on social media and enforce their own ideas and opinions. 

This finding reminds me of some of the digital activism projects we've looked at and reminds me of the importance of them all. Things like Codecademy, Women's Writers Project, anything that encourages learning and achieving. It's so heartbreaking that young girls and women are being brought up thinking a certain way, and they can't even understand that it's happening. Activist projects and organizations, like girls "Girls Who Code" and Codecademy (can you tell what I study yet?) empower everyone in a field that is previously dominated by white men. They offer opportunites and opportunities lead to an enlightenment of what is possibly for themselves and the people of their gender and race. 

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3 comments

I totally agree that it's heartbreaking young girls aren't seeing their full potential. And I think this treatment and percpetion of women is echoed in Nakamura's piece when she states that feminist efforts online are often "unwanted, punished, and viewed as censorship." I'm not completely sure what the root cause of all of this is, but it's quite disheartening to see that it stretches from early childhood to adult women trying to use their voices for good on social media. Nakamura also talks about how some of these digital laborers sometimes have to "de-pastoralize" and try to be perceived as more masculine in order to be heard - I hope this view isn't being fostered in early classrooms too.

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Great blog post! It is so sad that after the age of five, women believe that they are not as smart as men. You mentioned all of the programs that try to get women into computer engineering fields, but that they do not seem to be working. Do you think that it is because the programs need more time to create an impact? Also, what would you like to see on socail media in terms of this issue? 

 

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Interesting point!  I'm curious to know more about the role that social media plays in perpetuating women's skepticism of their own potential in STEM fields. Do you think that platforms like Twitter perpetuate the gender stereotypes you mention in your post? It seems like there is a push to get women more involved in computer science and engineering–and for good reason, as, like you pointed out, these fields have traditionally been dominated by white men.

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