HomeGifted Girls
WATCH INTERVIEW with 2 high school gifted girls:

Spotting Gifted Girls: Perfectionism, sensitivity and intensity are three personality traits associated with giftedness ( http://www.gifteddevelopment.com/What_is_Gifted/learned.htm).
  • Ideal age for gifted testing is 5- 8 ½ years.
  • Brothers and sisters are usually within five or ten points in measured ability.
  • Parents' IQ scores are often within 10 points of their children's; even grandparents' IQ scores may be within 10 points of their grandchildren's.
  • We have found more than 100 girls with IQ scores above 180. The highest IQ score on record at our Center was attained by a girl, and four of the five highest scores were earned by girls.
  • However, parents are more likely to bring their sons for assessment and overlook their daughters, and this inequity appears to be getting worse. From 1979 to 1989, 57% of the children brought for testing were male, and 43% were female, whereas 51% above 160 IQ were male and 49% female.
  • In 2008, 68% of the children brought for testing were male and only 32% female, while the distribution in the highest IQ ranges is 60% male and 40% female.
  • About 60% of gifted children are introverted compared with 30% of the general population. Approximately 75% of highly gifted children are introverted.
  • Read more at http://www.gifteddevelopment.com/What_is_Gifted/learned.htm
“In addition to their acute sensitivity, gifted girls play mental games with themselves--learned games they do unconsciously--in response to the conflicting expectations they experience both as girls and as talented people. Two examples frequently explored in the research are:” (Kerr, 1999).
  • "The Horner Effect" or fear of success, in which girls purposely hold back because of a need to please others (rather than compete with them), a need that is more intense with gifted than average girls (Kerr, 1994)
  • "The Impostor Phenomenon," in which girls feel pressured to explain away their success since it goes contrary to social expectations and their own self-image. They maintain that they performed well due to luck or because people did not evaluate them properly (Kerr, 1994). Adults need to develop strategies for helping gifted girls negotiate around this emotional mine field.
Elementary School, Most noticeable and unashamed.
  • Verbal Giftedness- Communicates well both verbally and in writing.- Creative writing- In my interview, Jessica mentioned growing up she wanted to be a writer and she would have her parents sit and listen to her stories.
  • Precious- Wide-Eyed, Buoyant, and energetic
  • Creative- Imagination with books and art projects
  • Shows Promise in Performing Arts- music, drama, and dance: More girls than boy decide on a career in art before the age of 10 yrs (Kerr p. 5).Musical giftedness is one of the earliest-developing talents, perhaps because its flowering does not depend upon life experience and maturity. Many child prodigies are musical prodigies whose parents noticed their strong early interest and arranged for instruction. In fact, private lessons at an early age are critical to the development of musical talent (Bloom, 1985). Girls whose talent is neither identified nor nurtured at an early age may never manifest that talent. (Kerr p. 4)
“In elementary school girls direct their mental energies into developing social relationships” (Kerr)

Junior High: Girls are valued for their appearance and social status more than for their intelligence.
- Often they can’t see their own giftedness and perceive it as they are different or outcasts; therefore they try to hide their gifts.
“Girls receive reprimands or disapproval for behavior deemed aggressive, pushy, unfeminine or impolite. This message is not lost on gifted girls” (Smutney, 1999).
  • Possesses superior analytical and conceptual abilities
  • Thoughtful and eloquent writing
  • Shows ingenious leadership ability (even in a negative way)
  • Helps explain math and science to struggling friends
High School: According to my interview: they are over the silliness. Stay after class and ask teachers questions and are proud of their intelligence.
  • Good class participants. Mature compared to energetic boys. Give answer and ask questions aloud.
  • Gifted in all intelligence areas
  • Motivated, competitive and hardworking
  • Inquisitive: want to know why
  • Perfectionists
  • Confident in their intelligence as well as their appearance- still struggle with wanting people to like them and fit in socially
  • Math & Science giftedness- same as boys

-“Despite the fact that such differences in mathematical ability appear to be diminishing rapidly with time, and that biological differences are known to account for only a very small proportion of the variance in scores between boys and girls, there is a disproportionate amount of discussion in literature and the popular media of the differences in mathematical ability among females and males. While it is true that far more young men than young women were shown to score at the very highest level of mathematical ability (Benbow & Stanley, 1983), it is not true that these differences in abilities are biologically dictated, as has often been automatically assumed”.
- “According to Jacobs and Eccles (1985), media reports of sex differences in mathematics influenced parental attitudes toward girls' mathematical ability, with mothers seeing their daughters' abilities lower than they had before the report, yet with fathers seeing their abilities as somewhat higher than before media reports of sex differences in mathematics. For whatever reason, gifted girls continue to have less confidence in their mathematical abilities than gifted boys do, and to see less relevance of mathematics to their own lives. The result is that a much smaller proportion of mathematically gifted girls actually pursue careers in math-related fields than do mathematically gifted boys” (Kerr pg.3).
-"Spatial Visual Giftedness: Barron assumed in 1972 that regardless of their intensity as art students women would eventually be sapped of creative energies by having children and would not continue as artists past motherhood. This archaic belief still exists among many leaders in the arts!" (Kerr 1999).
Everything below is copied and pasted from the Smutney 1999 article at http://www.davidsongifted.org/db/Articles_id_10171.aspx

Classroom Strategies to Let giftedness SHINE! “Girls cannot express talents for teachers to identify if the conditions for their expression do not exist. Even a few activities, integrated now and then into the regular curriculum, can encourage them to take risks” (Smutney, 1999).

In order to find the behaviors that indicate giftedness, teachers need to broaden the range of activities in which talent can occur. Tests and in-class assignments do not always reveal talent in many gifted girls. They may appear to be average students until some unique challenge inspires them”.

Teacher and parent observations, as well as a greater variety of student projects, will produce a clearer, more detailed view of girls' abilities (Eby & Smutny, 1990).

Small-group activities or paired work with students with whom gifted girls feel a freedom to express themselves can be particularly effective in math and science, where, for reasons having nothing to do with competence or talent, female achievement in all socioeconomic populations has lagged significantly behind male performance” (AAUW, 1992).

To identify gifted girls in the classroom, educators should look using multiple criteria. Rather than rely on test scores alone, teachers should be mindful of and facilitate behaviors that indicate giftedness. Following are some general guidelines for detecting talent in gifted girls from our the article "Gifted Girls" by J.F. Smutney.

1. Become familiar with a range of gifted behaviors common in the general population of gifted students. Examples include:

Academic Behaviors

  • Reads voraciously and retains what she reads
  • Communicates ideas well both verbally and in writing
  • Possesses superior analytical and conceptual abilities
  • Explores issues from multiple points of view

Creative Behaviors

  • Expresses unusual, out-of-the-ordinary points of view
  • Demonstrates special ability in the visual arts
  • Shows promise in performing arts (music, drama, dance)
  • Manifests improvisational ability in a variety of contexts

2. Become aware of the special challenges of gifted girls:

  • Low self-esteem
  • Apathy, based on resignation or feelings of inferiority
  • Fear of taking risks
  • Exaggerated concern about being accepted among peers
  • Ambivalent feelings about talent
  • Conflict between cultural identity and school achievement

3. Examine the signs of potential giftedness in this population. While each girl expresses talent in very unique ways, common indicators include:

  • Discrepancies between performance and self-concept
  • Discrepancies between average or low test scores and exceptional originality, imagination and insight in independent projects or assignments
  • Disinclination to participate, despite signs of talent or ability
  • Sudden, unaccountable appearance of some ability in a seemingly average girl
  • Misbehavior in class that shows ingenuity (despite its disruptiveness) or reveals leadership ability
  • Notable contrast between school performance and the abilities, achievements and/or activities reported by parents or community members

"Tests and in-class assignments do not always reveal talent in many gifted girls. They may appear to be average students until some unique challenge inspires them. Teacher and parent observations, as well as a greater variety of student projects, will produce a clearer, more detailed view of girls' abilities (Eby & Smutny, 1990)".

Useful Resources




  • Davis, G. A., Rimm, S. B., & Siegle, D. (2011). Chapter 3 . In A. C. Davis & J. W. Johnston (Eds.),Education of the Gifted and Talented (6th ed., pp. 54-94). Upper Saddle River, New Jersey: Pearson Education.
  • Kerr, B. A. (n.d.). A New Psychology of Girls, Women, and Giftedness. Smart Girls, 1-5.
  • Pfeiffer, S. I., Petscher, Y., & Kumtepe, A. (2008). The Gifted Rating
  • Scales-School Form: A
  • Validation. Roeper Review, 140-146.
  • Silverman, L. K. (1997-2011). What We Have Learned About Gifted Children 30th Anniversary [Gifted Development Center]. Retrieved from Linda Silverman, PhD website:http://www.gifteddevelopment.com/What_is_Gifted/learned.htm
  • Smutny, J. F. (1999, Winter). Understading Our Gifted: Gifted Girls. Open Space Communications, 11(2), 9-13. Retrieved from http://www.davidsongifted.org/db/Articles_id_10171.aspx
  • Wang, W. L. (2001, May). Genter Differences in Gifted Children's Spatial, Verbal, and Quantitative Reasoning Abilities in Taiwan . Department of Special Education Chang Yuan Christian Univeristy, 1-12.