> There is a well-documented stigma associated with > intelligence that is often expressed early in an > adolescent's socialization and education. The > resulting confidence issues generally effect the > female population to a greater extent than male, as > expressed in the article. The challenge thus is to > reverse the trend earlier than later. Although > McKellar is certainly doing her part, educators need > to promote the "coolness" of intelligence much > earlier in a child's (female's) education.
This may be true, but I often wonder if we feed such things when we acknowledge them with too much credence. For instance, I think most people have a bit of something we can call "math anxiety," or "test anxiety," but once you throw a term out there, it becomes an excuse, or the phenomenon gains more staying power.
I'm certainly not an expert, so I only offer this for what it's worth.
Like I wrote before, it never occurred to me as a youngster that girls were any worse at math than boys, and the evidence for me pointed the other way.
We should find ways of countering any attitude which discourages achievement, preferably with a positive message that overwhelms the negative. I don't mean the "self esteem" stuff, but putting achievement in a positive light (and laziness in a negative light) forcefully. But when folks start saying things like "girls can do math just as well as boys," it seems to be the wrong approach, full of presuppositions I do not want to give weight to by acknowledging. How about, "YOU can do this," and tell it to everyone present in the normal classroom. I would append, "but you'll have to work to learn it just like I did." And the adult has to have total charge, to be an authority figure that makes the peer pressure less relevant.