mgpcpastor's blog

“A System Of Perfectionist Teenage Girls”

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This article in Melbourne’s Age newspaper caught my eye.
It’s an interview with Claire Shipman and Katty Kay authors of a book called The Confidence Code: The Science and Art of Self-Assurance – What Women Should Know.
Part of the article deals with what they describe as a “system we’ve all set up is one that creates this army of young girl perfectionists.”
The rationale behind it is explained in these terms:

Not surprisingly, it’s a mix of nature and nurture. It does seem that girls’ and boys’ brains develop a little differently. Girls, especially at puberty, start to really have much higher emotional intelligence than boys. They did before, but this is the time they double down. It leads girls to be more cautious, and boys don’t have that. Boys get a big boost of testosterone, stuff that encourages risk-taking. You build confidence by taking risks and struggling and failing and eventually mastering something. You need to be taking action to build confidence. But the system we’ve all set up is one that creates this army of young girl perfectionists.
From preschool through university, it’s all about sitting still, colouring within the lines, doing more than expected, trying to please teacher. So they don’t take risks, fail, mess up. There’s this whole conversation about boys struggling academically. But that means in the real world they know what to do. They’re learning lessons about taking risks, so they’re more ready to try something.
We were really struck by this idea of how is this happening with young women. They are outperforming boys academically. Then they enter the work world, and their confidence plummets. They’re just not learning it’s okay to take risks and fail.

The takeaway is setting up mechanisms for encouraging both girls and boys to learn from failure.

Read the interview here.

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