This fairly in-depth analysis of Google search data published by the New York Times once again proves that the "men are smart, women are pretty" stereotype isn't dead, as much as statistics may contradict it.
The author analyzed various searches and found some interesting data on what questions parents are asking the almighty Google about their sons and daughters.
It’s hardly surprising that parents of young children are often excited at the thought that their child may be gifted. In fact, of all Google searches starting “Is my 2-year-old,” the most common next word is “gifted.” But this question is not asked equally about young boys and young girls. Parents are two and a half times more likely to ask “Is my son gifted?” than “Is my daughter gifted?” Parents show a similar bias when using other phrases related to intelligence that they may shy away from saying aloud, like, “Is my son a genius?”
Are parents picking up on legitimate differences between young girls and boys? Perhaps young boys are more likely than young girls to use big words or otherwise show objective signs of giftedness? Nope. If anything, it’s the opposite. At young ages, when parents most often search about possible giftedness, girls have consistently been shown to have larger vocabularies and use more complex sentences. In American schools, girls are 11 percent more likely than boys to be in gifted programs. Despite all this, parents looking around the dinner table appear to see more gifted boys than girls.
He goes on to tell us that, of course, daughters win out in parents caring about their looks. Some of the piece raises more questions than answers - in surveys, women say they want girls more than boys, but search results show "how to have a boy" is more common than "how to have a girl", and the sites returned are geared towards mothers.
There are obviously flaws with using Google as a tool for data - just Googling something slightly differently will mean it's out of this man's search range. For example, he only analyzed questions, so typing "Is my son gifted?" will show up on his results but "How to tell if my son is gifted" will not. In addition, it's a self-selecting group of people. In his questions about why "how to have a boy" is so popular, he didn't come up with the idea that possibly the same type of people that believe there are homespun ways to affect gender of a child might be the type of people that would prefer a boy to a girl. When you look at the data, you have to remember that it's not a slice of any population, but a slice of people that use Google to find a particular item.
But the findings are pretty damning nonetheless, and once again show there's still a long way to go in how we treat our children.