“Six Going on Sixteen”

Rachael Kline | Marketing Specialist
Sling TV LLC

A six-year-old is susceptible to many things in their new world. Discovering a favorite food, joining a t-ball league, welcoming a new sibling into the world, a favorite Disney Channel character. Skewed gendered beliefs about themselves should not be on this list, but in today’s world, this is an alarming reality.

                A study conducted by The University of Illinois yielded stark results pointing to a fundamental transformation occurring with females between the ages of 5 and 6. At age 5, both boys and girls associate brilliance with their own gender. Beginning at age 6, a shift occurs where young girls begin associating “smart” and “really smart” character traits to men, rather than their own gender. Interestingly, when girls in the study were prompted to play one of two games, either: a game for the “really, really smart” or game 2, for those who “try really, really hard.” The study notes that, “at the age of 5, girls and boys were equally attracted to both games. But among those aged 6 or older, the girls were less interested than the boys in the game for smart kids, but not the one for hard-working ones (Yong).” This finding was one of many pointing to the self-fulfilling prophecy that women are inferior to men, a seed planted as early as six years old.

                The study yields highly disheartening news. However, what the outcome of the study can teach us, is a new way to approach gender beliefs. Just as important as the value placed on brilliance is the importance of hard work and effort. As women in the corporate world, it’s crucial for us to educate. Let’s arm ourselves with the proper information, resources and tools to empower children, teenagers, young adults and peers to tear down these gender barriers. Let’s start weeding out the seeds of inferiority, and instead cultivate a sense of equality.

To read more on this study, click here.

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