Tips for Parents: Raising Gifted Girls - Special Considerations
Baliotis, V.
Davidson Institute for Talent Development
2012

This Tips for Parents article is from a seminar hosted by Vula Baliotis. She provides specific advice and guidelines on raising gifted girls.

Helping Girls Achieve in STEM Subjects (adapted from the AAUW)

  • Talk about females’ achievements in math and science.
  • Teach girls that the skills needed for STEM subjects are acquired.
  • Provide opportunities for development of spatial skills.
  • Help girls recognize their career-relevant skills.
  • Emphasize real-life applications in early STEM courses.
  • Teach girls about stereotype threat.

Nonsexist Children’s Literature Resources

Amelia Bloomer Project

  • http://libr.org/ftf/bloomer.html  
  • Creates annual lists divided into fiction and nonfiction. Includes three age categories: picture books, middle readers, and young adult.

Non-Traditional Pursuits of Boys and Girls (Rutgers)

What Parents Can Do to Address Sexualization of Girls and Females (APA Task Force on Sexualization of Girls, 2010)

  • Teach girls to value themselves for who they are, rather than for their appearance. 
  • Teach boys to value females as friends, sisters, and girlfriends, rather than as sexual objects. 
  • Model healthy attitudes and behaviors by what you say and do. 
    • What do you say about your own (or other females’) appearance? 
    • Do you value your (or other females’) mind, talents, and abilities over appearance? 
    • What subtle messages do you send your daughters or other girls? 
  • Watch media together & discuss messages: 
    • You can impact in the way in which media messages are interpreted. 
    • "Why is there so much pressure on girls to look a certain way?” 
    • "What do you like most about the girls you want to spend time with?" "Do these qualities matter more than how they look?" 
  • Encourage girls’ talents, skills, and abilities over their physical appearance.
    • Including ones not traditionally emphasized for girls, such as athletics. 
  • Understand that youths often feel peer pressure to keep up with popular media. 
    • Be non-judgmental.
    • Help girls make wise choices among popular alternatives.

General Tips for Raising Gifted Girls (In part adapted from Reis, 1998, 2005)

Promoting Learning and Success

  • Provide a wide range of learning opportunities 
    • Not only in languages, helping services, and arts 
    • Encourage participation in advanced math and science classes 
  • Inspire competitive athletic and leadership activities 
  • Monitor if and when gifted girls start to “dumb down” 
    • Address the issue as soon as possible.

Confronting Stereotyping

  • Expose girls to a wide range of role models 
    • Including those without stereotypically feminine life paths 
  • Do not discourage or ignore characteristics that you would support in boys 
    • Such as speaking up, leadership, competitiveness, athleticism 
  • Be mindful about what you say and model about females and their roles in society 
  • Recognize and acknowledge barriers that can negatively affect girls’ success 
    • Both external and internal 
  • Discuss and actively address obstacles and barriers to success 
    • Point out and discuss negative stereotypes 
    • Be careful with your language: “You cry like a girl,” “Girls aren’t good at math.”

Promoting Healthy Social Functioning

  • Support relationships with other bright female peers 
  • Encourage learning various communication styles in relationships 
    • Both inclusive of others’ presence and feelings and being confident

Promoting Self Growth

  • Expose girls to a wide range of role models 
    • Including those that have non-stereotypical life paths 
  • Encourage personality characteristics that are typically encouraged in boys 
    • Independence, smart risk-taking, self-confidence, self-reliance, independence, and decision-making

Promoting Healthy Emotional Functioning 

  • Help girls understand the impact of their gifted characteristics on their emotional well-being
  • Work to understand and accept their differences 
    • Even if they are not what you imagined for your daughter

Useful Resources

Girls and Women

  • American Association of University Women (AAUW) 
    • www.aauw.org/ 
    • Examines and takes positions of the fundamental issues of the day (educational, social economic, and political). 
    • Works to break through educational and economic barriers so that all women have a fair chance. 
  • Miss Representation 
    • www.missrepresentation.org 
    • A call-to-action campaign that seeks to empower women and girls to challenge limiting media labels in order to realize their potential.
    • A movement to eradicate gender stereotypes and create lasting cultural and sociological change.

General Gifted


This article is provided as a service of the Davidson Institute for Talent Development, a 501(c)3 nonprofit dedicated to supporting profoundly gifted young people 18 and under. To learn more about the Davidson Institute’s programs, please visit www.DavidsonGifted.org.

The appearance of any information in the Davidson Institute's Database does not imply an endorsement by, or any affiliation with, the Davidson Institute. All information presented is for informational purposes only and is solely the opinion of and the responsibility of the author. Although reasonable effort is made to present accurate information, the Davidson Institute makes no guarantees of any kind, including as to accuracy or completeness. Use of such information is at the sole risk of the reader.

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