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Gifted girls conceal their talents

Filed under: Boys / Youth / Education — Darryl Ward @ 12:27 pm Sun 24th May 2009
I would question this, given the tendency to “put down” males.

Gifted girls conceal their talents

By CATHERINE WOULFE – Sunday Star Times
Parents need to watch their daughters closely to work out whether they might be “gifted”, experts say, because girls are far more likely than boys to deliberately “dumb down” to fit in with their friends.

Worse still, says Chris Herbert, head of the assessment team at the Gifted Education Centre (GEC), girls who hide their talents are likely to become bored and frustrated, setting them up for failure at secondary school because they lose all motivation.

“Gifted” children are defined as those who achieve, or have the potential to achieve, at a level far above most other children their age. If they make an effort at school, their marks are likely to be in the top 5% of their class.

A child can be gifted in one area such as mathematics or music or many, and there are different levels of giftedness.

Research suggests that about half of all gifted kids are never identified. But Sheryl Burns, assistant director of the GEC, says gifted boys are much more likely to be identified than girls.

“Little boys, when they get bored, tend to act up and become the class clown so they get picked up [as gifted]. Little girls tend to just become quiet and sit in the corner and don’t say very much so they are never picked up.

“As they get older, the desire to fit in becomes greater… Girls dumb down, they comply, and they become the teacher’s pet.”

Sue Breen, GEC lead teacher, says her gifted daughter (now an adult) deliberately kept her marks to 80% throughout school. This tactic kept the teachers happy, and also meant she didn’t stand out too much from her friends.

Now Breen sees other girls using the same cover-up strategy.

“Eighty percent is a good mark to get. That’s fine, as long as they remember they’re doing it. But sometimes they forget they think of themselves as an 80%-er.”

Breen says she has to work hard to get girls to take risks with their answers, to try new ways of thinking and stop simply delivering what they know the teacher wants. ‘

Education psychologist and head of the New Zealand Association for Gifted Children, Rose Blackett, says it can take just one comment to push a gifted child into covering their talents.

“They will feel it. It will cut to the bone rather than be like water off a duck’s back.”

Parents who think their daughter may be gifted can have her tested by private psychologists or the GEC, which has branches around the country. Once a child is identified as gifted they gain access to the GEC’s special classes, and the acknowledgment can also help parents, and the child’s school, to better understand and work with them.

The GEC centres will hold open days in the third week of June, which is Gifted Awareness Week.


  1. This is more an indictment of the Education system, which rewards mediocrity and excuses failure.
    1 It may be true that girls act dumb more than boys, but the same effect occurs with e.g. Maori children, because they are EXPECTED to underachieve.
    2 There are all sorts of programmes for under-achieving children, but nothing for high performers.
    3 There is a real need for children to BELONG. Many gifted children who find it hard to fit in with the mainstream END UP IN THE SPECIAL NEEDS CLASSES just to have a place to belong
    4 Another problem is parents who place a different WORTH VALUE on gifted children. “Our little Johnny is GIFTED” implying that he is WORTH MORE than your dumb kid). This is a terrible burden for both the child and the adult. Children (and parents) need to know that the IH child, the gifted child, and the normal child have EQUAL VALUE, and EQUAL LOVE.
    5 The GIRL thing is jsut a hang-over from the days when SOME MEN expected to make all the decisions, and ‘her at home’ to keep quiet. Those days are LONG PAST, we see far more EXPECTATION OF DUMBNESS placed on men and boys. e.g., look at advertising, look at the ‘boys are dumb’ tee shirts etc.

    Good on the “gifted education centres”- a reminder to them to avoid sexism, and a reminder to them to support parents to ensure that gifted children are not treated as gifted freaks, but loved as normal children.

    Comment by John Brett — Sun 24th May 2009 @ 1:12 pm

  2. So let me get this straight……
    after years and years of academia and media bashing males labelling them as second rate compared to females, after decades of “Girls can do anything” and “You go Grrrl!”
    “amidst boys are stupid throw rocks at them”……
    after magazine articles in NZ asking ‘are men necessary’…..after the national carrier and flagship Air NZ treats ALL men as potetial child molesters…..after decades of more healthcare, more welfare, much more women as educational role models (teachers)…..after decades of public ‘awareness campaigns’ highlighting only male perpetrated abuse…and with grossly inflated statistics too….after all of this ….and I’m just getting started….there’s even more I could point to…….a reporter and a few psychologists want my sympathy for a handful of girls who ‘hide’ thier talent to fit in…..

    hahahahaaha! What a sick joke!

    Sorry girls…..there are MUCH MORE PRESSING PROBLEMS BOYS FACE IN OUR EDUCATION SYSTEM for me to worry about……and you’ve already got FAR FAR MORE GOING FOR YOU THAN THEY.


    Comment by Skeptik — Sun 24th May 2009 @ 4:02 pm

  3. Sorry for the typos.
    I guess I was just hiding my talent there for a moment.
    I wouldn’t like the feminist establishment to think I was smart!!!

    Comment by Skeptik — Sun 24th May 2009 @ 4:04 pm

  4. You’re a funny guy Skeptic. I think seriously that we should all become comedians. (sorry, but this is such madness)

    Comment by julie — Sun 24th May 2009 @ 8:51 pm

  5. What’s funny Julie?

    Comment by John Brett — Sun 24th May 2009 @ 9:03 pm

  6. OK, John, there isn’t anything funny about men being put in prison, losing children, being treated badly in education plus, plus.

    But have you ever felt like you live in crazy world? So crazy that you want to book yourself on the comedy scene? Well, I have and do.

    It is so insane that you feel like the only sane thing is to find the humour in it?

    Comment by julie — Sun 24th May 2009 @ 9:16 pm

  7. Ah- someone with my sense of humour!! I’ve recently appointed the musical director for my funeral (you never know, you know)- I chosen Queen “I’m going slightly mad”, followed by “Who wants to live forever”.
    My oldest son just got a much needed kidney on Wednesday- from my oldest daughter. The family has come a long way since the ‘restructuring’. In a family of 6 ppl, there are 30 different relationships (n x (n-1) ). I counted that half of all those bonds had been broken due to PAS. My daughter and I fell out, because I felt that she was a threat to me. Her children have since grown up without their grandad (me). I then find myself by her bedside, telling her how impressed I was with her giving her kidney. There’s a joke in there somewhere. (I’m knitting with only one needle- unravelling fast it’s true- I’m running only on three wheels, my dear, how about you?)

    Comment by John Brett — Sun 24th May 2009 @ 11:17 pm

  8. Skeptik,couldn’t have said it better myself.

    Comment by Scott B — Mon 25th May 2009 @ 8:46 am

  9. This just proves my theory that the media will print/report any propoganda for women. They have taken over our media.

    Comment by Scott B — Mon 25th May 2009 @ 9:19 am

  10. our being everyones, not mens…just thought I better point that out.

    Comment by Scott B — Mon 25th May 2009 @ 9:19 am

  11. Yeah, that had me laughing out loud too. Like the royal sex needs more sympathy.

    Comment by timpo — Tue 26th May 2009 @ 12:51 pm

  12. Don’t put us women down too easily. Man is not the royal sex to me.

    Comment by julie — Tue 26th May 2009 @ 1:03 pm

  13. What feminist establishment? Where are these women and how do you know them?

    Comment by Linda Callahan — Tue 26th May 2009 @ 6:11 pm

  14. You don’t need to know them personally, and sadly these women with their horrible agenda are everywhere.

    Comment by Scott B — Tue 26th May 2009 @ 7:12 pm

  15. Linda,
    It’s unbeleivievable to me that you need to ask such a ludicrous question as –
    “What feminist establishment?” and “Where are these women?”

    Have you been in a coma for the past three decades, or studying wimmin’s studies at uni all that time?
    Come to think of it both conditions are equivalent.

    Comment by Skeptik — Tue 26th May 2009 @ 9:30 pm

  16. Scott B said –
    “You don’t need to know them (feminist establishemnt) personally, and sadly these women with their horrible agenda are everywhere”.

    Too true Scott B…….and the ones who try coming over as naive asking where the feminist establishment is are especially suspect……

    I’d add it not just feminist women either. There are plenty of guys who got in on the movement too who are guilty of contributing to the social disintegration wrought by 30 odd years of feminzm.

    Comment by Skeptik — Tue 26th May 2009 @ 9:46 pm

  17. Linda Callahan says:

    What feminist establishment? Where are these women and how do you know them?

    White American slavers were unaware of their racism towards African slaves. I’m confident most of them wouldn’t have known where to find a racist let alone believe that racists existed and yet history records the facts. The African slaves were never in any doubt. It’s just an attitude.
    If you have to ask where to find feminist establishments and the whereabouts of these women then you’re looking to defend the slavers position when you could be adjusting your attitude so you can see for yourself.

    Comment by SicKofNZ — Tue 26th May 2009 @ 10:33 pm

  18. Hey, these aren’t “women” – these are your daughters.

    Comment by zaahk — Wed 26th August 2009 @ 1:59 pm

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