They may end up beating the boys in exams but girls start their school lives far less likely than their male peers to see themselves as natural leaders.
A new study has found big differences between how young boys and girls perceive themselves.
While 46% of boys believed they were leaders, only 18% of girls saw themselves taking charge.
Girls were apparently reluctant to take control for fear of being seen as bossy while boys had no such sensitivity - they didn't want to be in charge because they were worried the role would be too tough.
Typical comments made by five and six-year-olds included, 'Girls become nurses and boys become doctors' and 'Boys want to be active and play at war and girls want to talk and include everyone'.
The poll of 2,000 primary school children was carried out for the think-tank, the Institute of Leadership.
It included an assessment of older pupils where many boys said they preferred the way girls took control of groups - though not a single girl thought the same of boys taking charge.
So are we still stuck in the days when little boys wanted to grow up to be train drivers and little girls aspired to be ballet dancers?
Cardiff-based writer and performer Gwenno Dafydd Williams, an expert on equality, is depressed but not surprised by the research findings.
'I think it's to do with the way we bring children up. I have brought my 12-year-old daughter up not to accept gendered roles. If she wants to do something, she should go for it.'
Gwenno, who works as a freelance business adviser on the WDA Equality Project for Small and Medium Sized Enterprise (SMEs), reckons children's gender attitudes are more to do with nurture than nature.
When her daughter first attended primary school, she noticed that within as little as six months, negative gender attitudes were already taking a hold.
'The teachers will get girls to do different tasks to boys. Boys are 'allowed' to be more 'boisterous' and cheeky, which encourages risk taking and rule breaking, something not encouraged in girls.
'Also in primary school, boys stand in this row and girls in that row which reinforces the fact that the sexes are separate and 'different'.
'My daughter was never a Barbie girl, first and foremost because I hate them, and the plastic imagery of womanhood it promotes, and secondly she was never particularly interested in them anyway. She was more interested in …