Girls attribute their failures to lack of talent

When faced with failure, girls are more likely than boys to lack talent, and it is everywhere on the planet, according to a study published Wednesday.

Paradoxically, this trend is particularly marked in countries that are more egalitarian, and among girls who demonstrate very good academic performance.

If gender stereotypes have been widely studied in the past, this new work, published in the journal Science Advances, has the advantage of not being limited to small samples and allowing countries to be compared.

They were conducted based on the results of the Pisa Survey, which every three years surveys the performance of 15-year-old students around the world, especially in reading, math and science.

In 2018, over 500,000 students were also questioned for the first time on this sentence: “When I fail, I’m afraid it’s because I don’t have enough talent”.

RESULTS: In the 72 countries studied, except for one (Saudi Arabia), girls attributed their failures to a lack of talent compared to boys, who were more likely to blame external factors, even at similar performance.

By extension, within OECD countries, 61% of girls said they agreed with the statement, compared to 47% of boys – a difference of 14%.

In non-OECD countries, this gap still existed, but was almost half as pronounced (8%).

– glass roof –

“We don’t have an excellent explanation” for this paradox, CNRS researcher and study co-author Thomas Breda told AFP. But this apparent disparity has already been observed in the past, for example for self-confidence, or choice of studies – the gap between girls and boys is widening in more egalitarian countries.

According to the researcher, this shows that “as countries develop, gender norms do not disappear, but reconfigure themselves.”

A hypothesis has been put forward that more free countries eventually leave more room for individuals to fall back on old stereotypes.

These countries also place a lot of focus on individual success, and thus tend to overestimate talent. “In a society where we don’t care whether people are more or less talented, there is less room for these stereotypes”, suggests Mr. Breda.

The researchers further showed that there is a strong association between the idea of ​​being less talented and three other indicators studied as part of the Pisa survey: the more girls think they lack talent than boys, the less They have more confidence than themselves. To them, they enjoy the competition as little as possible, and are less likely to see them later working in the information and communication technology sector (prestigious masculine and well-paid).

However, these three indicators are often cited as reasons that may have contributed to the existence of the glass ceiling, which women face in reaching the highest positions.

Thus these results are not very encouraging for the future: they “suggest that the glass ceiling is unlikely to disappear as countries develop or become more egalitarian”, according to the study.

An advanced track to move the lines: “Exit the rhetoric of pure genius”, advances Thomas Breda. “Success goes through learning through trial and error. (…) If we reconstruct the idea of ​​pure talent, we will also break down the idea that girls are less natural with talent than boys. are well-endowed.”

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