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

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

  • 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) 
    • 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 

General Gifted

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