The Trouble with Bright Girls

In west on 03/03/2011 at 2:36 pm

I took my Economics midterm and scored a 90%.  In undergrad, I didn’t study finance or economics nor ever had an interest in it.  I found the midterm incredibly challenging and walked away from the exam feeling defeated — studying for this class has been discouraging, with me closing my books in frustration on more than one occasion. Why does this happen? I consider myself a relatively intelligent person and have done very well in both academics and work, and yet, there I am, overwhelmed by a daunting task.

In the 1980s, Psychologist Carol Dweck conducted a series of studies looking at how Bright Girls and boys in the fifth grade handled new, difficult and confusing material.  She found that Bright Girls, when given something to learn that was particularly foreign or complex, were quick to give up; the higher the girls’ IQ, the more likely they were to throw in the towel. In fact, the straight-A girls showed the most helpless responses.

Researchers have uncovered the reason for this difference in how difficulty is interpreted, and it is simply this: More often than not, Bright Girls believe that their abilities are innate and unchangeable, while bright boys believe that they can develop ability through effort and practice.

More here.


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