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    #183612 - 03/02/14 12:46 PM Underconfidence in gifted girls
    JonahSinick Offline
    Member

    Registered: 07/28/13
    Posts: 51
    The 1996 study Self-Efficacy Beliefs and Mathematical Problem-Solving of Gifted Students found that

    Although most students were overconfident about their capabilities, gifted students had more accurate self-perceptions and gifted girls were biased toward underconfidence.

    Facebook chief operating officer Sheryl Sandberg discusses high potential women being underconfident in her book Lean In.

    I've had many gifted female students and classmates/colleagues who have struggled with intellectual insecurity.

    Parents sometimes ask me if I have any suggestions for what they might do to help.

    For those of you who have daughters, does this sound familiar? If so, are there resources / strategies that you've found helpful for improving their self-confidence?


    Edited by JonahSinick (03/02/14 12:58 PM)
    _________________________
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    #183613 - 03/02/14 01:34 PM Re: Underconfidence in gifted girls [Re: JonahSinick]
    HowlerKarma Offline
    Member

    Registered: 02/05/11
    Posts: 5181
    Check out resources on "Imposter Syndrome."

    This seems to be tied to Socially-prescribed Perfectionism in girls and women.

    I've never known a HG+ woman that didn't have at least some of those thoughts, and I've known a fair number of them, working in STEM.

    Honestly, exposure to true peers-- and LESS EXPOSURE to toxic social practices in adolescent girl culture, that's what works. There's a reason why I've not necessarily discouraged my DD's natural inclination to hang about with mostly MALE friends as a teen. The girls tend to come with so much drama, so much emotional baggage... so much that is negative for my DD's self-image. It's sad, but I feel like my first duty is to her, not girls as a whole.

    I'm convinced that imposter syndrome is a result of girls who try to fit into normative girl culture when it isn't who they actually are. "Being smart" is never part of that normative culture, which is profoundly about appearance and being non-threatening and sexually appealing to others.

    One gets into a habit of "pretending" and going along to get along-- and you forget who you ACTUALLY are at some point in those years between 10 and 25.

    It's the social and emotional equivalent of foot-binding; learning to navigate a carnival funhouse is so hard that you learn to ignore your own inner voice.

    Of course you question your own competence and authenticity at the end of that.
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    #183615 - 03/02/14 01:46 PM Re: Underconfidence in gifted girls [Re: JonahSinick]
    Val Offline
    Member

    Registered: 09/01/07
    Posts: 3279
    Loc: California
    I think that success/achievement in the face of a challenge is a big confidence booster. In gifted kids, a special challenge I that regard is that success at age/grade-level work comes too easily and gifted kids are at risk of shutting down when something is hard.

    I try to address this problem by stretching my kids. A recent example related to my daughter is that I do algebra and common core fractions/decimals with her. I teach her the common core stuff as it's meant to be taught to teachers (i.e. using algebraic expressions as parts of proofs). She gets it, and it feels good. My goal with this approach is to teach her how to stop and think when something is hard, rather than reacting by saying, "I can't do this!" because she doesn't see the solution immediately.

    She also won the school spelling bee recently (was competing against middle-schoolers, and she's only 9). Learning to spell all those words was a challenge and winning taught her a big lesson about what can happen when she stretches herself and tries hard.

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    #183618 - 03/02/14 02:07 PM Re: Underconfidence in gifted girls [Re: JonahSinick]
    JonahSinick Offline
    Member

    Registered: 07/28/13
    Posts: 51
    @ HowlerKarma — Thanks for the thoughts. I wonder how much being in a different peer group might help with this.

    @ Val — Yeah, lots of gifted children have the issue that you highlight, and what you're doing sounds good.

    There's something to watch out for in connection with competitions. As one passes to progressively more elite competitions, the chances of doing well relative to others go way down. I know of children who scored at the 99th percentile in the American Math Competition, and who qualified for the next round (or the round after that) and were among the weakest participants there and felt inferior as a result. So an early boost in self-confidence coming from involvement with competitions can be followed by a drop later on. Some people take losing in stride and don't have this issue, but it's worth being vigilant toward.
    _________________________
    Advising for gifted children available at Cognito Mentoring.

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    #183619 - 03/02/14 02:19 PM Re: Underconfidence in gifted girls [Re: JonahSinick]
    kcab Offline
    Member

    Registered: 10/02/07
    Posts: 1603
    Loc: Sparta, apparently
    ...
    Something I've read recently that is related to this (at least in my brain) is:

    Silent Technical Privilege (Slate)

    For anyone who doesn't want to read that, the author makes the argument that he has consistently been given the benefit of the doubt regarding computer skills due to his appearance and gender. Sounds like that had an especially large impact when he was a novice learner - he could make mistakes and not be told "maybe this isn't the field for you". That's what I think is relevant to this topic - permission to make mistakes, permission to not know - without it being attributed to gender (or intelligence).

    I see the same dynamic in other areas, like basic construction/wood-working.
    ...


    Edited by kcab (08/23/16 10:06 AM)
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    #183624 - 03/02/14 02:54 PM Re: Underconfidence in gifted girls [Re: JonahSinick]
    NotSoGifted Offline
    Member

    Registered: 04/14/12
    Posts: 441
    DD18 clearly hasn't been in any such study - she thinks very highly of her abilities in all areas (academics, sports, music, etc.) and she always has. We sometimes need to take her down a notch.

    DD16 sometimes needs to be reassured of her abilities, but I don't see this being a big problem.

    Not really sure yet about DD9 - haven't figured her out yet.

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    #183628 - 03/02/14 04:48 PM Re: Underconfidence in gifted girls [Re: JonahSinick]
    Val Offline
    Member

    Registered: 09/01/07
    Posts: 3279
    Loc: California
    Originally Posted By: JonahSinick
    As one passes to progressively more elite competitions, the chances of doing well relative to others go way down. I know of children who scored at the 99th percentile in the American Math Competition, and who qualified for the next round (or the round after that) and were among the weakest participants there and felt inferior as a result. So an early boost in self-confidence coming from involvement with competitions can be followed by a drop later on. Some people take losing in stride and don't have this issue, but it's worth being vigilant toward.


    Good point. My daughter takes things in stride. She'll find out if she's going to advance to the regional finals tomorrow, but she doesn't really care either way. She wants to get to DC by 8th grade, but doesn't want to crush herself in the process, so she's decided to work gradually. This means learning lots of root words consistently over the next 3 years, which will allow her to spell and know meanings with much less memorizing. I even found a PDF of a Sanskrit roots book on the web. It was published in 1885. Oh, how I love the web.

    The semi-finals of the regional spelling bee were, well, interesting. I could feel the competitive stress among some of the parents and DD felt it among the kids. She was at a loss to understand it, and it was a big part of her decision to take the long view: "I'm doing this to have fun and learn stuff, not to get crazy about WINNING!!! If I get to the regional finals this year, that will be a giant step, but I'm happy with a big step to the semi-finals."

    Dude has said that the only way to win the game is not to play it. I agree, and I work hard to help my kids understand what this idea means.

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    #183641 - 03/02/14 08:22 PM Re: Underconfidence in gifted girls [Re: JonahSinick]
    JonahSinick Offline
    Member

    Registered: 07/28/13
    Posts: 51
    @ Val — I hesitate to question the optimality of your daughter's choice of activities without solicitation & hope you'll forgive me if it's unwelcome, but have you and her thought about whether spelling bee preparation is the best use of her time?

    Training for spelling bees may build discipline, constitutes cognitive exercise, and if done in the way that she's doing it, can improve one's understanding of language. But there are more conceptual activities that utilize higher order thinking skills to a greater extent. And very few people gifted people (or people more generally) pursue professions that utilize the subject matter learned to a nontrivial degree.

    I tend to think that it's better to learn

    (a) Ideas that have broad ramifications (such as some of those from psychology, philosophy, economics and evolutionary biology), or that fit into rich conceptual structures (such as those from math or physics)

    and

    (b) Skills that are useful in many real life contexts, such as writing, and programming.

    There may be important considerations in favor of spelling bees that I'm missing, and I'd be interested in hearing any. I recognize that gifted children are often involved in spelling bees, and that there may be social benefits to being involved even if the activity isn't the most valuable in the abstract.
    _________________________
    Advising for gifted children available at Cognito Mentoring.

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    #183644 - 03/02/14 09:04 PM Re: Underconfidence in gifted girls [Re: JonahSinick]
    Val Offline
    Member

    Registered: 09/01/07
    Posts: 3279
    Loc: California
    Originally Posted By: JonahSinick
    @ Val — I hesitate to question the optimality of your daughter's choice of activities without solicitation & hope you'll forgive me if it's unwelcome, but have you and her thought about whether spelling bee preparation is the best use of her time?

    I recognize that gifted children are often involved in spelling bees, and that there may be social benefits to being involved even if the activity isn't the most valuable in the abstract.


    Honestly? You've overstepped your bounds and (more importantly) missed the point of your own thread.

    My husband and I encourage our children to make their own decisions. If they don't learn this process now, when will they?

    Just as importantly, if an adult comes along and dismisses a child's choice to excel in a particular competition that the adult doesn't value personally, the message is clear: Girl, you don't know how to make good decisions. Let me show you a better way. . In a situation like this one, this approach directly feeds into the lack of confidence that your thread brings up. Think about that.

    You've brought up an important idea (how to increase confidence), but in this context at least, your response to a child's goals gives the impression that you haven't fully thought the idea through. smile

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    #183646 - 03/02/14 09:40 PM Re: Underconfidence in gifted girls [Re: JonahSinick]
    JonahSinick Offline
    Member

    Registered: 07/28/13
    Posts: 51
    @ Val — Thanks for engaging, this is helpful.

    I'm broadly in favor of children making their own decisions, and didn't mean to suggest otherwise. Children usually aren't aware of all available options and their pros and cons. Learning about these things is inherently empowering rather than disempowering. One has to be careful about how one presents information for the reason that you give. But it's possible to present it in a way that's not patronizing.

    Reflecting on my own history, there are points where it would have been very helpful if somebody had raised certain considerations that I was unaware of at the time.


    Edited by JonahSinick (03/02/14 09:41 PM)
    _________________________
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