Gender and Giftedness

All children demonstrate their gifts and talents in unique ways. At Madrona, the cornerstone of our approach is meeting each student as we find them, allowing their interests and needs to direct their learning. At the same time, we recognize that we live in a world shaped by difference and diversity.

Although many of the challenges faced by gifted girls and boys are the same, some are shaped by gendered experiences.

Gifted boys may face bullying about their academic achievement in a culture that denigrates a focus on school as a “girly” pursuit. Gifted girls, on the other hand, may be told they are “bossy” when they exhibit gifted traits such as independent thinking and leadership. In addition, children of each gender can face different challenges to their self-esteem as they age.

At Madrona, we take a gender-conscious approach, providing an equitable and supportive environment for students to thrive on their own terms.

Our Computer Programming classes and our interdisciplinary technology program ensure that girls as well as boys will be ready to engage with and participate in the world of the future, while parent-led sessions on areas of expertise open all students’ eyes to new ideas and opportunities. Our teachers and staff work hard to ensure that all children progress through school feeling confident in their unique talents and empowered to be themselves.

Wondering if you know a gifted girl?

Children of all genders exhibit giftedness in equal numbers; however, girls and boys don’t always demonstrate their giftedness in the same ways. Girls tend to be socialized to be quieter and less disruptive, and so may pass unnoticed when they are bored, frustrated, or are not academically challenged.

These and other differences in gender expression and social expectations can make it difficult for teachers and others to recognize when they are dealing with a gifted girl. Did you know that research has shown a gender bias in teacher referrals to gifted programs in favour of boys[1]? Even parents can be more likely to identify their gifted sons than their gifted daughters[2]. The difficulty in identifying gifted girls does not mean that they do not benefit from special education. In fact, encouraging and challenging gifted girls in positive ways is recognized by psychologists as key to their development into confident women and successful students in high school and beyond. Ask us what we can do for your gifted girl!


[1] See Bianco, Harris, Garrison-Wade & Leech, 2011. Gifted Girls: Gender Bias in Gifted Referrals. Roeper Review, 33(3); as well as Powell & Siegel, 2000. Teacher Bias in Identifying Gifted and Talented Students. The National Research Center on the Gifted and Talented.[2] See Gonchar, 22 January 2014. Do Parents Have Different Hopes and Standards for Their Sons than for their Daughters?The Learning Network, New York Times; as well as Silverman, 2009. What Have We Learned About Gifted Children? 1979-2009. Gifted Development Center.