Google Knows What Really Worries Parents... And It's Scary
Parents want their boys smart and their girls skinny. Gulp.
I found the results of a recent study by Google Data Scientist Seth Stephens-Davidowitz to be rather shocking, to say the least. In a recent op-ed article in the New York Times, he reveals that by using anonymous, aggregate data from Google searches, parents are two and a half times more likely to ask, “Is my son gifted?” than “Is my daughter gifted?” Parents are also twice as likely to ask how their daughters should lose weight than how their sons should.
And it only gets worse from there.
Stephens-Davidowitz says Google search data reveals parents are more likely to wonder whether their daughter is “beautiful” or “ugly.” The question of, “Is my daughter overweight?” comes in roughly twice as frequently as “Is my son overweight?,” despite the fact that 33 percent of boys are overweight compared to 30 percent in girls. And when it comes to intelligence (while parents often search about whether their child might be gifted) boys are still in the majority. This is despite the fact that girls consistently demonstrate larger vocabularies than boys at a young age and are, according to the article, 11 percent more likely to be in gifted programs.
So what does this say about us, parents? I have to admit I’m still picking myself up off the floor.
We can easily place blame all over the place. Shallow messaging comes flying at us from all angles in media and advertising campaigns, clearly emphasizing exterior beauty over what’s inside; waist size over the size of our brains. But at the end of the day, the buck stops with us. Raising a child comes with an enormous amount of responsibility, and if we are ever going to have true gender equality and an understanding of what is really important—brains over beauty, people!—maybe it’s time to have a look at ourselves first. How we came to make these assumptions in the first place, and what we can do to change before we unwittingly pass these biases to our children.
Maybe that’s what we should be Googling.
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