Why do so few women end up in physics, mathematics and other fields traditionally associated with brilliance? Part of the answer may lie in what happens to girls by the time theyre out of kindergarten. A new study finds that six-year-old girls are less likely than boys to think members of their own gender can be brilliant and theyre more likely than boys to shy away from activities requiring exceptional intelligence. Thats a serious change from their attitudes at five, when theyre just as likely as boys to think their own gender can be brilliant, and just as willing to take on those activities for brilliant children. Film review: Hidden Figures powerful tribute to three black women who helped Nasa in 60s The results, described in the journal Science, shows how early these gender stereotypes begin to affect the self-perception and behaviour of girls and they may limit their aspirations and careers into adulthood. Why no lab time in sons IB science class, Hong Kong mum wonders If we want to change young peoples minds and make things more equitable for girls, we really need to know when this problematic stereotype first emerges, and then we know when to intervene to avoid these negative consequences on girls educational decisions and their future career choices, says lead author Lin Bian, a graduate student in psychology at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.