Subtle Linguistic Cues Increase Girls’ Engagement in Science

Marjorie Rhodes, Sarah Jane Leslie, Kathryn M. Yee, Katya Saunders

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

45 Scopus citations


The roots of gender disparities in science achievement take hold in early childhood. The present studies aimed to identify a modifiable feature of young children’s environments that could be targeted to reduce gender differences in science behavior among young children. Four experimental studies with children (N = 501) revealed that describing science in terms of actions (“Let’s do science! Doing science means exploring the world!”) instead of identities (“Let’s be scientists! Scientists explore the world!”) increased girls’ subsequent persistence in new science games designed to illustrate the scientific method. These studies thus identified subtle but powerful linguistic cues that could be targeted to help reduce gender disparities in science engagement in early childhood.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)455-466
Number of pages12
JournalPsychological Science
Issue number3
StatePublished - Mar 1 2019

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • General Psychology


  • cognitive development
  • language
  • open data
  • open materials
  • science education
  • sex
  • social cognition


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