In a recent issue of the journal Advances in Physiology Education, Katelyn Cooper, a doctoral student in the Arizona State University School of Life Sciences and lead author of the study reported that ender greatly impacts students’ perceptions of their own intelligence, particularly when they compare themselves to others.. A first-of-its-kind study showed that in the college biology classroom, men perceive themselves as smarter, even when compared to women whose grades demonstrate they are just as accomplished. The results of the study indicate that gender greatly influences students’ perceptions of their own intelligence, particularly when they compare themselves to others.
The ASU research team asked college students enrolled in a 250-person biology course about their intelligence. Specifically, the students were asked to estimate their own intelligence compared to everyone in the class and to the student they worked most closely with in class.
The researchers were surprised to find that women were far more likely to underestimate their own intelligence than men. When comparing a female and a male student, both with a GPA of 3.3, the male student is likely to say he is smarter than 66 percent of the class, and the female student is likely to say she is smarter than only 54 percent of the class.
In addition, when asked whether they are smarter than the person they worked most with in class, the pattern continued. Male students are 3.2 times more likely than females to say they are smarter than the person they are working with, regardless of whether their class partners are men or women. Sara Brownell, senior author of the study stated that this study shows that women are disproportionately thinking that they are not as good as other students, so this a worrisome result of increased interactions among students. She further added that in a world where perceptions are important, female students may choose not to continue in science because they may not believe they are smart enough. These false perceptions of self-intelligence could be a negative factor in the retention of women in science. Cooper concluded that It’s a mindset that has likely been engrained in female students since they began their academic journeys.