Gender stereotypes take root early. According to a new study in the journal Child Development, girls' and boys' attitudes about math begin to diverge as early as second grade.
Many have argued that girls and boys alike are awash in messages that math is for boys. The new study reminds us just how early children can respond to such cues.
The researchers studied 247 children in Seattle-area grade schools: "Boys associated math with their own gender while girls associated math with boys. In the self-concept test, boys identified themselves with math more than girls did."
Perhaps this shouldn't surprise us, but second grade is awfully early. So what is a parent to do? Raising our children in bunkers seems like an attractive option sometimes, but the researchers have a more practical idea: "Parental and educational practices aimed at enhancing girls’ self-concepts for math might be beneficial as early as elementary school, when the youngsters are already beginning to develop ideas about who does math."
In other words, buck those stereotypes early and often.