Impact of Negative Stereotypes on Children’s Performance by Dr. Munn, online psychotherapist for professional women of color and child and adolescent psychotherapist in Mountain View, CA.

Research shows when negative stereotypes (gender) are evoked prior to a math exam, females perform poorer than their male counterparts. If negative stereotypes are not evoked prior to taking the exam, they perform comparable. Why is this the case? When negative stereotypes are evoked, it causes a distraction and illicit insecurities at a subconscious level, therefore preventing them from fully focusing and attending to the task at hand.

Thus, if you’re a parent with a little girl, it’s crucial to (1) foster their self-esteem, (2) instill a growth mindset by teaching them to focus on learning rather than ability, (3) expose them to challenging situations that are also male dominated to cultivate perseverance and self-efficacy, (4) and remind them continually to focus on the goal (e.g. doing their best), even when it feels hard. Of note, these concepts are applicable to women and girls of all ages.

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Reference: Good, C., Rattan, A., & Dweck, C. S. (2012). Why do women opt out? Sense of belonging and women’s representation in mathematics. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 102(4), 700-717.

Disclaimer: The content in this post is only intended to increase your knowledge on parenting and child development; it is not online therapy. If you’re concerned about your child’s immediate safety please call 911 and consult with a licensed clinician about any clinical symptoms you are observing in your child.