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Teaching our children women aren't smart

Discussion in 'Feminist Only' started by Quintessence, Jan 27, 2017.

  1. Quintessence

    Quintessence Tale Weaver
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    [ REMINDER - this thread is in the Feminists ONLY section ]

    Perhaps the most challenging thing about combating cultural norms is that they are entrained in humans from a very young age. Perhaps this recent study showcased by BBC news shouldn't be surprising, but it highlights the difficulties of promoting equality of the sexes when the biases take hold at such a young age:

    "The study put sets of five, six and seven-year-olds through different experiments.

    In one, the children were read a story about someone who is "really, really smart" but it is not clear who the story is about.

    They then had to guess the protagonist from four pictures - two of men and two of women.

    At age five, boys pick men and girls pick women around 75% of the time. But fast-forward a year to age six and boys are still picking men while girls are now slightly more likely to pick men too."
    *full article here*

    The possible implications of this are touched upon a bit in the full article. The narratives we tell are important for shaping how we behave and live our lives, but also affect those around us. I wonder if the entrainment this study observed is in part due to the skew towards having "brains" characters be males rather than females in the stories we tell. The skew is less hard than it was in the past - now you can at least find women in roles that would have been taboo or unimaginable a century ago.

    Any thoughts or reflections on this story or issue?
     
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  2. lewisnotmiller

    lewisnotmiller Grand Hat
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    Yes...it's like a more scientific version of an old riddle I heard...

    A father and son have a car accident and are both badly hurt. They are both taken to separate hospitals. When the boy is taken in for an operation, the surgeon (doctor) says 'I can not do the surgery because this is my son'. How is this possible?

    Of course, the doctor is the boy's mother.
    There is a lot of power in both narrative tales and on the role models our children are provided. Having 2 girls has made me more conscious of how pervasive certain archetypes are, and to try and counter that by highlighting more positive characters and role models.

    It's definitely better than it was when I was a boy (ie. 20 years back) but it's certainly not a balanced equation. I'm unsurprised that over time this has a small but measureable effect.
     
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  3. Terrywoodenpic

    Terrywoodenpic Oldest Heretic

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    It is strange we still hold such prejudicial views.
    For many years now there have been more women graduating as doctors than men.
    They are on the verge of overtaking men as an overall majority.

    GMC | Growth in the proportion of female medical students begins to slow

    The senior partner in the practice I attend is a woman.
    The same will be true in my son in laws practice, next year, when he semi-retires and hands over the reins.
     
  4. Kirran

    Kirran
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    I don't dispute such findings overall by any stretch, but I do wonder if, with such a small sample size as four pictures, it might not have been a totally fair test.

    I haven't read the article, so maybe their experimental method accounted for this by varying the pictures.
     
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  5. Iti oj

    Iti oj Global warming is real and we need to act
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    I named my daughter Malala. Exposing her to the herstory through books like Hidden Figures, Glass Universe or about Margret Hamilton are important to us. What I'm embarrassed to admit is I can't name one current important female scientists. For that I'm sorry. Though I did find a great one via cspan months ago.


    It's important to remember that the accomplishments of woman were stolen by men for centuries. Also we live in a climate where we no longer celebrate science and scientists.
     
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  6. Iti oj

    Iti oj Global warming is real and we need to act
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    After showing this thread to my wife, she brought up the dumb blond stigma.
     
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  7. Shadow Wolf

    Shadow Wolf Rival's Wife

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    It doesn't surprise me. There are still many negative stereotypes about women, and they can be easy to internalize. In my family, for instance, I am pretty much the only one who doesn't view the world through lenses of "blue is for boys, pink is for girls." There are also views of women being weaker, emotionally driven and less logical, and then of course there are the stereotypes of stigmas of men who partake in "feminine" activities or displays feminine traits and characteristics.
     
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  8. Drolefille

    Drolefille PolyPanGeekGirl

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    It reminds me of the doll studies done with young black girls. We don't realize the biases we teach children because we're blind to them.
     
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  9. Shadow Wolf

    Shadow Wolf Rival's Wife

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    I still feel heartbroken over learning of those studies, that we have failed as a society to the point that even children internalize something "inferior" about them through nothing more than skin color.
     
  10. Drolefille

    Drolefille PolyPanGeekGirl

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    The list of things leaving me heartbroken lately is high. But yes, I wish I could fix the world.
     
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  11. Politesse

    Politesse Amor Vincit Omnia

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    Society continues to lag behind. I had a conversation about this in one of my classes a while back (I teach at a community college in a relatively poor rural area). Like most of my classes, most of my students were female, and I asked them how many had been discouraged to attend college by their families on the basis of their gender; about a fourth raised their hand, maybe 20 out of 80.

    A disgruntled father or boyfriend is also an extremely common reason for women to drop out; one version I find extremely frustrating is when the man was willing to go along with it she was "just taking a few classes" but then demands that she drop because
    a. she's about to graduate, and thus outrank or even outearn him
    b. she's taking classes with him, but getting better grades than he is, so he gets mad and starts beating her.​
    Talking to fellow professors reveals that this is not a rare occurence, in any major, and due to its very rationale it has stolen away some of my best and most promising students.

    This is not why I am a feminist, but if I weren't a feminist, it would make me one.
     
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  12. Curious George

    Curious George Veteran Member

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    I don't think it is something over which you need to be heartbroken. Firstly, I imagine thought stereotypes remain, we have seen some progress. Secondly, gender roles are complex. Third, these studies show a correlation that around the age of 6 there is a correlation with the development of the idea that a remarkably smart people are boys and remarkably nice people are girls. This does not mean that they believe girls are dumb and boys are mean.

    I agree that the idea assumption that a very smart person is male and a very nice person is female is troubling. But I think it progress compared to previous generations. We need to be aware of how we reinforce gender stereotypes in children and make sure our indoctrination are minimally harmful.
     
  13. Curious George

    Curious George Veteran Member

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    Now that is heartbreaking.
     
  14. Terrywoodenpic

    Terrywoodenpic Oldest Heretic

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    I find that very sad...I have not heard that that goes on in the UK, But it might.
    I worked as head of an admin department in a very large (32,000) inner city Further education college, for the last ten years before I retired, and that never came up in heads of department meeting as a problem area.

    Results here show that female students do noticeably better and get better results than the males. right through the range from certificate to degree level studies. However when it comes to employment there is often a glass ceiling for females and they are disadvantaged in earnings by up to 30% for the same work and qualification level.

    My Grandsons girlfriend, who has a masters degree, has recently found a position in the field of water testing, inspection and environmental control, working on her own all over the UK. The company has very recently been taken over by an American company. She has been assigned to train some (male) new recruits as part of her responsibilities. She was disgusted to find that though they were all less well qualified than herself, and less experienced, and had less responsibilities, that they were started on higher salaries than herself.

    She has now been offered a place at university to research for a PhD in the same field. and will no doubt accept the offer.
     
    #14 Terrywoodenpic, Jan 29, 2017
    Last edited: Jan 29, 2017
  15. Notanumber

    Notanumber A Free Man

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