Changing Gender Roles

Christina Youn, Co-Editor

According to a Science journal study published on Jan. 26, young girls feel less “smart” than boys by the early age of six. Already at this age, girls feel that boys are more likely to be more successful in “smarter” activities than themselves. The report was based on a group of 400 students from different backgrounds throughout the nation, showing that gender roles and societal norms are impacting young women extremely early on in their lives.
This is incredibly troubling that a majority of girls do not see themselves as being as smart as or even smarter than boys of the same age. Multiple different studies have proven the validity of the Pygmalion effect, or the phenomenon where higher expectations lead to an increase in performance. However, the negative side of this shows that negative expectations lead to a decrease in performance. Therefore, when these young girls are expecting to do worse than their male counterparts from the start just because of their gender, they are setting themselves up for lower performance, which then in turn just confirms this belief.
This is essentially creating a negative feedback loop. Girls are believing that they won’t perform as well; therefore, they aren’t performing as well, confirming their beliefs that they can’t perform as well. And this is the problem. We as society are restricting women’s ability to dream from early on in life.
We cannot have our young girls think that they cannot do something just on the basis of their gender at birth. By implementing this mentality that it is inevitable that boys are just naturally smarter when it comes to school, we are limiting girls from reaching their full potentials, both academically and professionally later on in their lives.
Change needs to take place early on. When girls are taught by society that they cannot reach the success of their male counterparts from such a young age, this mentality stays with them throughout their entire lives and limits the ability to dream. Therefore, we must change the way in which women are portrayed in popular culture and the media. By having powerful female role models that these young women can look up to, change can happen little by little.