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Gifted Girls. Julie Moeller and Lisa Kennedy. The Facts Are…. In early childhood through the elementary school years, gifted boys and girls are equal in number. In adolescence, gifted boys outnumber gifted girls. In adulthood there are far more gifted men than gifted women.

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Gifted girls

Gifted Girls

Julie Moeller and Lisa Kennedy

The facts are
The Facts Are…

  • In early childhood through the elementary school years, gifted boys and girls are equal in number.

  • In adolescence, gifted boys outnumber gifted girls.

  • In adulthood there are far more gifted men than gifted women.

Interesting statistics
Interesting Statistics

  • Girls talk, read, and count earlier than boys.

  • Girls have an academic edge over boys at every age between 2-14.

  • Between third and eighth grade gifted girls self image declines dramatically.

  • 8th Grade gifted girls reported more negative self confidence and image of popularity than non-gifted girls of the same age.

  • Gifted girls are less likely to take demanding high school math and science classes than boys (40% vs. 72%)

Gifted elementary girls
Gifted Elementary Girls

  • Highly gifted girls aspire to careers having moderate rather than high status.

  • More highly gifted girls are not as likely to seem well adjusted.

  • Gifted girls at age 10 express wishes and needs for self-esteem.

  • Gifted girls are more strongly influenced by their mothers than are gifted boys.

The adolescent gifted girl
The Adolescent Gifted Girl

  • Gifted girls’ IQ scores drop in adolescence, perhaps as girls begin to perceive the giftedness in females is undesirable.

  • Gifted girls take less rigorous courses than gifted boys in high school.

  • Highly gifted girls often do not receive recognition for their achievements.

  • Highly gifted girls attend less prestigious

    colleges than highly gifted boys.

Barriers for gifted girls
Barriers for Gifted Girls


  • Parents

  • Teachers

  • Grades

  • Peers

  • Society


  • Self Confidence

  • Social Problems/ Isolation

  • Career/ Family Concerns

  • Multipotentiality

  • Perfectionism

  • Underachievement

Gifted girl issues are often presented in the movies
Gifted Girl Issues Are Often Presented in the Movies….

School of Rock

Akeelah and the Bee

Mean Girls


Parental influence
Parental Influence

  • Parental perceptions supercede self-perception

  • Negative parental comments can cause lasting negative effects for gifted girls.

  • Societal views held by the parents can influence the views of their gifted daughters in a negative way. Examples: Beauty over Brain; Popularity over Academics

  • Gifted girls from families whose cultures promote “Father Knows Best” are often not encouraged. (Hispanic/Asian/Indian)


  • Common social problem among gifted girls.

  • High academic achievement = Social disaster.

  • Gifted girls are ranked least popular in studies.

  • Higher mental ability and advanced maturity gives many gifted girls a natural leadership ability. This ability is often seen as being “bossy”.

  • Gifted girls are also perceived as highly critical of others.


  • Healthy: Leads to realistic goals and high achievement. These are girls that “Don’t sweat the small stuff” and move on when mistakes are made.

  • Unhealthy/Dysfunctional: Sets unreasonable goals with the idea that “everything” must be perfect. Causes a fixation on mistakes and perceived parental expectations/criticisms. Results in high anxiety, avoidance of failure, and negative self-image. These can lead to eating disorders, depression, and underachievement. Most often these girls are the “people pleasers.”


Parental influence, societal pressures, social isolation, and dysfunctional perfectionism, alone or in some combination can lead to underachievement in gifted girls.

  • Parental – Too much pressure or not enough?

  • Society – Traditional gender roles or break out of the box?

  • Social – “Dumb down to fit in?” or “Excel and be different?”

  • Perfectionism – “Will I ever be good enough? Maybe it’s just better to fail?”

Why do gifted girls start to have trouble
Why do Gifted Girls Start to Have Trouble?

  • the desire for friends,

  • a disinclination to stand out,

  • fear of ridicule,

  • the need for acceptance

  • Often they don't understand their own gifts and talents

What can we do about this problem
What Can We Do About This Problem?

  • gifted girls require extra support that is particularly sensitive to the dilemma that talent brings to the position of females in our society.

  • Make sure that girls don’t receive reprimands or disapproval for behavior deemed aggressive, pushy, unfeminine or impolite.

  • Parent’s influence tends to be the determining factor of self confidence in a particular area.


Navan, Joy. “Nurturing the Gifted Female, A Guide for Educators and Parents”. Corwin Press. 2009.

Smutny, J. F. “Understanding Our Gifted”. Open Space Communications Vol. 11, No. 2, pp. 9-13 Winter 1999. db/Articles_id_10171.aspx

Gurian, Anita. "Gifted Girls- Many Gifted Girls, Few Eminent Women: Why?"NYU Child Study Center. Web. 30 July 2010. < articles/gifted_girls_many_gifted_girls_few_eminent_women_why>.