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This is why language matters!

A Harvard study was conducted, in which women and men had to take an exam-like test. First, they had to work on a verbal section 💬 and then on a math section 🧮.

In the verbal section the groups were given different manipulation in form of reading comprehension essay.

👉🏻 Two text versions implied that there IS a difference between men and women (S & G) when it comes to math performance: one argued with genetics the other with stereotypes.

👉🏻 And two other text versions (ND & E) implied that there IS NO difference between the genders.

The women in those groups that read the text implying there was NO difference in math performance due to gender OUTPERFORMED the other groups in the math section results by far! 🥳 It was so significant, that they redid the study – just to make sure. And the same thing happened. 🏆

And it might be nuances in the wording, that make a difference…

In a different study, people have been exposed to different statements:

👉🏻 The baseline group – they were simply asked, without previous framing, to judge which gender, girls or boys, is naturally more skilled at math, or which gender has to work harder to be good at math.

👉🏻 The “girls EQUAL boys” group – this group read an actual scientific brief about that there is no gender difference in math abilities. Yet, it was phrased with the “boys” in the complement position, such as “Girls do as well as boys in math”.

👉🏻 The “boys EQUAL girls” group – here the wording was exchanged: “Boys do as well as girls in math”.

👉🏻 The “girls AND boys” group – The wording here said: “girls and boys do equally well at math”.

👉🏻 And the “boys AND girls” group – “boys and girls do equally well at math”.

(By the way, there was a whole other experiment that used “verbal ability” instead of “math”.)

You can see 👇🏻 that putting one gender in the compliment position attributes to a bias. In the math case, the bias was even reversed! And that is equally bad!

“Finally, statements with both genders in the subject position […] showed the most promise as expressions of equality. Since neither gender was framed as the reference point nor these statements reduced participants’ biases without reversing them.”

So, the way we speak influences how we think which in return influences how we perform. Let’s work on how we speak to gain more momentum!


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