I have a 6-year-old daughter. A daughter I’m trying desperately to raise to believe that she can do anything, be anything, BOSS anything. So when I see statistics like this one from Science magazine, I’m thrown into a feminist frenzy:
“At age 5, children seemed not to differentiate between boys and girls in expectations of ‘really, really smart’—childhood’s version of adult brilliance. But by age 6, girls were prepared to lump more boys into the “really, really smart” category and to steer themselves away from games intended for the ‘really, really smart.'”
Of course, my first reaction is to march over to my daughter and demand, “Who’s smarter? Girls or boys?”
(And then when she says, “Both. It doesn’t matter if you’re a boy or a girl”, sighing with relief — while secretly wishing she answered “Girls.” 😉)
Because although this belief isn’t outwardly displaying itself in my daughter just yet, it’s a real and prevalent one. Science continues:
“Common stereotypes associate high-level intellectual ability (brilliance, genius, etc.) with men more than women. These stereotypes discourage women’s pursuit of many prestigious careers … Here we show that these stereotypes are endorsed by, and influence the interests of, children as young as 6. … These findings suggest that gendered notions of brilliance are acquired early and have an immediate effect on children’s interests.“
While shocking to see in actual scientific study format, these results are by no mean surprising. Which is why I’m so happy that there are organizations and associations working to combat these stereotypes at an early age.
If you’re like me, mama, and you’re worried about this stereotype perpetuating in our children, check out some of these organizations that are working hard for “really, really smart” little girls:
Girls Who Code is a national non-profit organization dedicated to closing the gender gap in technology. Founded by Reshma Saujani, Girls Who Code has grown from 20 girls in New York to 40,000 girls in 50 states. It offers after-school clubs for girls in grades 6-12, and 7-week summer programs for 10-11th grade girls.
Their work is paying off: In 2015, 93% of their summer program participations said that they now wanted to major in or are interested in pursuing computer science.
Black Girls CODE has set out to prove to the world that girls of every color have the skills to become the programmers of tomorrow. The organization’s goal is to grow the number of women of color working in technology and provide African American youth with the skills to occupy some of the 1.4 million computing job openings expected to be available in the U.S. by 2020, and to train 1 million girls by 2040.
The NGCP is working to bring together organizations throughout the United States that are committed to informing and encouraging girls to pursue careers in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM). On its website, you can find a local program and learn how to participate and also search a huge directory of girl-serving STEM programs.
IGNITE (Inspiring Girls Now In Technology Evolution) is a nonprofit that introduces girls in grades 6‐12 to technology and engineering careers through IGNITE Panel Presentations, field trips to local companies and colleges, programming workshops, robotics workshops, job shadows and more. The program takes place during the school day and is managed by teachers. You can support their mission by donating, starting a chapter or becoming a volunteer.
Girlstart aspires to be the national leader in designing and implementing innovative, high-quality informal STEM education programs that inspire girls to transform our world. It provides year-round education programs for K-12 girls that foster STEM skills development, an understanding of the importance of STEM as a way to solve the world’s major problems, and an interest in STEM electives, majors and careers.
Have any organizations to add to this list? Share in the comments, or fill out our Featured Organization form to submit your article idea.
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