Thursday, January 24, 2008

"Whether you believe you can do a thing or not, you are right."

Today I read an interesting article from about a study done on how men and women perceive their intelligence differently . The basic gist of the study is that while:

"Universally, men tend to score higher on certain specialized skills, such as spatial awareness. In the real world, that means they might be better at reading maps or navigating. Women score higher in terms of language development and emotional intelligence. But most experts agree there is no real, important overall difference when it comes to gender and intelligence."

women still tend to underestimate their own intelligence while men overestimate theirs.

I have to admit, I wasn't overly surprised by that finding. Women have historically been suppressed-seen as property of their husbands/male family members, not allowed to vote, not allowed to go to university, etc, etc-and all that so it doesn't seem overly surprising that women are still struggling to see and understand their own potential.

What I did find surprising (not to mention disturbing) was that the study found that:

"[Both] men and women think their sons are brighter than their daughters...It is also surprising since school results, at least in Great Britain (where the author is from), indicate quite clearly that girls are doing better than boys in nearly all subjects."

Maybe I just don't have a real reference point for this. As I look back on my own childhood, I always felt that both my parents thought I was the smartest cat around! Not necessarily in relation to my brother...we're 5 years apart so we never really had much competition between us...but in relation to the world! Maybe I was completely oblivious to my parent's real views on the subject...but if that's true...I'm grateful that they were able to at least trick me into thinking that I'm pretty darn smart! I suppose there's a chance that I really am smarter than I think I am...but considering how smart I think I am, that's probably not the case!

The author of the study goes on to discuss why this perceived intelligence even matters in the real world. One word: confidence. Who would you rather hire "a bright woman who doesn't think she's smart, or a not-so-bright man who believes he's capable of anything?" It's like Henry Ford said "Whether you believe you can do a thing or not, you are right." My hope is that I can do as good of a job as my own parents did in instilling that confidence in Lily (and all subsequent children) so that she (they) will believe and know that she (they) can do anything.

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