The stereotype that girls lack talent: A worldwide investigation

Published by Clotilde Napp, senior researcher (CNRS) and Thomas Breda, professor, in Science Advances, 9 March 2022.

Recent research has shown that there exist gender stereotypes that portray men as more brilliant or inherently talented than women.

We provide a large-scale multinational investigation of these stereotypes and their relationship with other gender gaps. Using a survey question asked to more than 500,000 students in 72 countries, we build a measure of the stereotypes associating talent with men and show that they are present in almost all studied countries.

These stereotypes are stronger among high-achieving students and in more developed or more gender-egalitarian countries. Similar patterns are observed for gender gaps in competitiveness, self-confidence, and willingness to work in an ICT (Information and Communication Technology)–related occupation.

Statistical analysis suggests that these three latter gender gaps could be related to stereotypes associating talent with men. We conclude that these stereotypes should be more systematically considered as a possible explanation for the glass ceiling.


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Published on 28 March 2022