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plans for world domination

Gender Role Awareness and Giftedness

Posted by napthia9 on 2007.09.12 at 21:42
Current Location: college
Current Mood: okayokay
Current Music: bebe-malo
So, I was thinking. Somewhere over in tamara_raymond's journal, thedeadqueenposted this comment:
Gifted people tend to show more traits that are stereotypically "opposite gender" as well as the ones that are stereotypically their gender. To be a little less convoluted, gifted women act more competitive/aggressive/etc. and gifted men act more emotionally intelligent/articulate/etc. (This is not my insight, this is psychological research I've read various places)."

Upthread, cmonkid posted this:
Mister Plum talked about the distinction in self-expression between the "gifted" male students and the average ones. He said there was too much testerone in the latter inhibiting their responses to the assigned text, whether those be emotional, intellectual, or an inseparable combination of the two. In the gifted class, he observed that the guys were more comfortable with having insight and sharing it too.

To which tamara_raymond replied:
Mr. Plum makes sense. But--not only is emotion girly, but so is intellect? That's...well, I don't feel I've ever witnessed girls "dumbing themselves down" to make themselves less intimidating toward boys, as the theory goes; in fact, usually it seems to be the opposite. I don't know if that's the motive, but it does seem that a lot of boys aren't comfortable being smart, and that this is a sign of "not enough testosterone."

Now, I'd prefer to back up our personal experiences with some research or statistics, but I'm way too busy/lazy/tired to go and look for them. Anyway, what I wanted to do is speculate on why the gifted are less gender-typical? Is it because gifted kids are more likely to understand the social construction of gender, and so they are less likely to believe that they -must- act like a stereotypical wo/man in order to be satisfied? Perhaps it has to do with the socio-economic/cultural background of the people typically identified as gifted or placed in honors classrooms. Or maybe gifted kids are taught to value academic/professional success over success at gender-typical activities such as make-up or sports? Or maybe this is an unfair characterization of the nongifted, based on untested assumptions, stereotypes, and pre-existing bias.

What do you all think?


zaraakinae at 2008-01-14 00:55 (UTC) (Link)
I think this is an intriguing idea. I know that I certainly don't follow social conventions- I'm more comfortable in activities more often associated with the opposite gender. However, none of the other gifted girls seem to exhibit this trait to such an extreme as I take it to. But the sole guy in our class regularly gets mediocre grades when I know he can do better. Interestingly enough, there is another guy who isn't in the TAG program who is certainly my rival, grade-wise.
I think the adherence to or deviation from social conventions depends entirely on upbringing. It's not just gifted kids who're different. And both the smart-but-not-TAG-identified guy and I are both from out-of-state. The other identified kids are born and raised in PA and they are typical to their genders. It's odd, now that I think about it.
I think that there's a profound difference in the way the gifted and nongifted think. Myself being a former PEG, I got into a discussion with a fellow PEG, and we came to the conclusion that some of the stress between the program staff and the gifted girls was that we see ourselves as being mature adults (with occasional lapses into childishness and sugar highs) while the staff saw us as smart children. We resented being treated as children because we don't think the way normal children do. Our priorities are much different as are our mental processes.
I think that this might be related to the unknowing defiance of the stereotypes. Most of us are already outcast because of our "weirdness," and so we see no reason to try to get back into the in-crowd. So we don't do what's expected of us, gender-wise. Why should I lose sleep getting up early to do my makeup when no one cares how I look? I could spend that time doing something useful.
So to sum up my rambling, I believe that we think differently, which leads us to holding different priorities than are typical of our respective genders. We are atypical of our genders because we see no reason to be typical.
Z {Chapter Thirty-Three: The Prince's Tale}
0_0dbo_o at 2008-06-28 03:12 (UTC) (Link)
For me... me and gender-role is a facinating study in its own (haha).
As a girl, I'm also the girl who was at a table filled with (gifted ed., but still) guys all of middle school, wears over-large sloppy aged Dragonball Z t-shirts, and is absolutely appalled by the idea of wearing pink or skirts (although that might be partially tied to untied elementary experiences). I suppose I spent a lot of time pre-high school trying very hard to establish myself in the opposite gender role, because it was a lot more comfortable, even if I couldn't fully. Acting 'boyishly' was always facinating to me... I'm not even really sure why. Now I'm kind of borderline and I've basically decided that I want to live the rest of my life in an 'androgynous' or 'genderless' identity... because there are things in both gender roles that I am comfortable with and other things in both that just aren't who I am. For me it was a lot of self-discovery.
Perhaps gifted teens are more inclined to explore 'themselves' in more intriguing ways than the average teen... because they are more likely to question the world around them and to think about those kinds of concepts, and even more encouraged to explore those concepts, particularly amongst other gifted peers.
thedeadqueen at 2008-06-29 21:20 (UTC) (Link)
Interesting question! I don't know enough about the socioeconomic/cultural background thing, although I'd imagine that plays a role. I would guess part of it may be biological--maybe intelligence comes from unifying what we normally think of as opposite styles, like thinking/feeling and aggression/sensitivity. But I think most of it is that we tend to examine things more critically than other people, including gender constructs.

So, here's how I examined the cultural construction of gender...

I wonder if overloading little girls with pink, ruffles and lace leads them to associate pink those things with immaturity. So when they get older, they feel that they need to reject all things "girly" in order to be more grown up. I know that was true with me. When I was in middle school, I stopped wearing pink, lace, glitter, skirts, or dresses because I wanted to be grown up (I had had a pink room and wore a lot of skirts and dresses up til then). When I started noticing the media some time after that, I added the association of "shallow." Anything stereotypically feminine in the media is presented in a really shallow way. So I rejected makeup (right when all my peers were starting to wear it), most jewelry and nail-polish (except black) and cell phones. Of course, makeup and jewelry can be artistic and expressive of one's individuality, and keeping in touch with friends doesn't have to be "liek OMG" shallow, but I didn't see that.

By the time I was in high school, I knew that to the media and other people, looking nice was about attracting the attention of the opposite sex. Or, at the very least, it could lead to that. I know people say it's about feeling confident, but the real subtext is being confident in your sexuality. And I wasn't sure I wanted to be a sexual being. I believed you could be either a sex object or a full person, but not both--probably because neither my peers nor the media seemed to get that one could be both. So I didn't want to look nice. Unfortunately, that was difficult because I had developed my own fashion sense and dressed myself carefully, looking at my body as a canvas for works of art. In order not to look too nice and thus become a sex object, I refused to brush my hair. Ever. My hair became a battleground which my mother and I fought over every morning. She didn't get, and I couldn't explain to her, that I was trying to keep myself a person and not a sexual object.

But all of these decisions haven't provoked any real angst for me because I've never really identified with any of the stereotypical feminine images, or with the idea of feminine either, really. I think of myself as lots of things--gifted, Jewish, geeky, intellectual, etc.--but not as a woman, even though I present as one. So stereotypes of women annoy me and I don't follow them, but I don't feel existentially threatened by them the way some people seem to. *shrug*
coffeegirl18 at 2009-10-22 07:52 (UTC) (Link)
I'm a newbie on here and pretty sure I'm gifted.

I'm not agressive but I find very little in common with other women and tend to have more guy friends than girls.

Although I also agree with queen as it's social constructs that mold us into a stereotypical guy or girl.

Edited at 2009-10-22 07:53 am (UTC)
napthia9 at 2009-10-26 04:44 (UTC) (Link)

I should have an icon saying 'brevity is not my strong suit,' really

Hey, thanks for commenting after all this time! (And welcome!)

If I wrote this post now, with a couple of Gender's Studies in my belt, I'd probably talk about multiple masculinities/femininities as a way to point out that even though many Gifted people don't play into the standard macho-man/Barbie-woman dynamic*, they are still socialized into some form of gender presentation. (For more on this, I recommend Kate Bornstein's thoughts on performing gender. Although I've only read one of her articles, it was pretty thought-provoking.)

*I have met gifted people who did do this, to varying extents. I claim sampling bias in my earlier observations.

At varying points in my life, I've also found it true that the people I hung with were mostly guys. On the other hand, I'm mostly hanging out with female friends at the moment. I'm not sure giftedness had much to do with this anymore- but I do notice that the gender homogeny of my social groups alters depending on the identity I want to present- at the moment, I want to be unnoticed, invisible, and hang out with people who won't say things that makes me want to argue with them. When I was in mostly-male groups in high school and first year college, I tended to be more aggressive. The online company I keep has almost always been exclusively female-organized (feminist blogs, fannish circles, even in my WoW Rp group I felt most comfortable with the female-IDed players), but unlike my current RL sitch, those circles are out-spoken, loud, and fairly self-contained.
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