Why do smart girls and boys view new learning challenges differently?

Monday, September 30, 2013

The trouble with bright girls
Social psychologist Heidi Grant Halvorson is Associate Director of the Motivation Science Center at Columbia University’s School of Business. According to the Center’s website, motivation science “asks questions about what people want, how they try to get it, and what happens when they succeed or fail.” In this article, Dr. Halvorson tells why women’s intellectual ability is often not accompanied by the confidence we might expect. She writes, “We [women] judge our own abilities not only more harshly, but fundamentally differently, than men do.  Understanding why we do it is the first step to righting a terrible wrong. And to do that, we need to take a step back in time.”  How far back?  She talks about research that shows something happens when equally bright girls and boys are in the fifth grade. She emphasizes that this is not about innate gender differences, but about socialization. Parents and teachers display attitudes and practices that treat girls and boys differently. As a result, girls and boys form different ideas about their ability to learn and master new and difficult material. This article comes from Women 2.0, the website of a media company dedicated to encouraging women to enter careers in technology and entrepreneurship. It was originally published in Psychology Today.

Letha Dawson Scanzoni
Letha Dawson Scanzoni is an independent scholar, writer, and editor. In 1978, she and Virginia Ramey Mollenkott wrote Is the Homosexual My Neighbor?, one of the earliest books urging evangelical Christians to rethink their views on homosexuality (updated edition, 1994, HarperOne). More recently, Letha coauthored (with social psychologist David G. Myers) What God Has Joined Together: The Christian Case for Gay Marriage (HarperOne, 2005 and 2006). Another of Letha’s most well-known books is All We’re Meant to Be: Biblical Feminism for Today, coauthored with Nancy A. Hardesty (Word Books, 1974; revised edition, Abingdon, 1986; updated and expanded edition, Eerdmans, 1992).

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