Stereotypes and Gender in Fixed Mindsets

Growing up in the 80s, “Growth Mindset” didn’t exist. But we were told over and over to have a positive attitude. How many times have you been told to adjust your attitude? I remember clearly the day I decided to try. I remember making the choice to look for the positives. I remember the realization that choosing to look at the positive was in itself an arrival, because I was looking at the positive.

That positivity has worked well for me in life, and when I started reading about growth mindset and grit, it was my frame of reference. At the risk of having a false growth mindset, I would still say that in many areas of my life, I am growth minded. It has served me well so far in pursuing my masters degree, as detailed in a previous blog post “On the Imposter Syndrome”. 

BUT, in this reading of Dweck’s book, something else stood out to me. On page 47, the question is posed “Can I be half-and-half? I recognize both mindsets in myself.” And on page 74-79, she details the effects of negative stereotypes and other’s opinions. 

If girls grow up experiencing praise their entire life, they are much more affected by criticism of any kind later in life. Any negative feedback is disastrous. “Many females have a problem not only with stereotypes, but with other people’s opinions of them in general. They trust them too much.” p.78 This resonates with me more than I care to admit. 

So maybe some of us have a relational or emotional fixed mindset? Realizing this…how can it inform our learning environments? Do we give feedback to every student equally regardless of race or gender? Do we tolerate different language between male students and female students? 

In the area of CRITICISM, I aim to teach my students how to LEARN from both positive and negative feedback as a habit. 

My mindset on growth mindset is growing. 


Dweck, C.S. (2016). Mindset: The new psychology of success. Ballantine Books. 

Gross-Loh, C. (2016). How praise became a consolation prize. The Atlantic Magazine.