“Why Girls Beat Boys at School and Lose to Them at the Office”

When I was recently on a rather long study break from my never-ending Political Science reading assignments, I came across a New York Times article by Lisa Damour that caught my attention. The headline of that article grabbed my attention, so I used it as my own for this post (I’m going to assume you clicked on my post because it did the same to you). “Why Girls Beat Boys at School and Lose to Them at the Office”, a headline strong enough to get anyone to press click but yet another depressing reminder that while girls run the world (as Beyoncé reminds us!) unfortunately in the end it is often men who decide the world we live in. I decided to share with you some important pointers within the article that I found to be both of interest and sufficient motivation to make you register for the next political election.

 

1. The Article Asks an Important Question: “Hard work and discipline help girls outperform boys in class, but that advantage disappears in the workforce. Is school the problem?”

            A question that is enough to possibly make me stand up to my male Poli Sci professors and address the never-ending reading homework (oops), leaves many to wonder if our personal situations perpetuate the cycle of sexism and women always not getting ahead. Before anyone can counter, there’s hard evidence that Damour provides to back this up: “Girls consistently outperform boys academically. And yet, men nonetheless hold a staggering 95% of the top positions in the largest public companies”. If the habits that girls have in school help them get ahead academically, why do these habits somehow fail them when entering the workforce?

Keep reading, because this question does get answered.

2. The article interviews two journalists, Katty Kay and Clair Shipman, who both found that it’s not a shortage of competence that is holding back women but more likely a shortage of confidence.

As quoted by Kay and Shipmand on why men get ahead by confidence they say: “underqualified and underprepared men don’t think twice about leaning in…[even when] overqualified and over prepared, too many women still hold back. Women feel confidence only when they are perfect”.

            Okay ALARMING. But it doesn't come as a surprise to me that perfectionism is one of the leading sources of gender inequalities in the workforce. Women are constantly expected to be the best and outperform everyone else to even be considered for an interview.

3. This raises another important question that the article addresses: “What if school is a confidence factory for our sons but only a competence factory for our daughters?”

To think that oftentimes men are inclined to succeed with minimal effort and know that they will get the gold star for participation while young girls are taught the opposite leaves it to not only the school to challenge this ideal, but rather to our parents and ourselves to challenge this notion as well.  As Damour concludes, “while a degree of stress promotes growth, working at top speed in every class at all times is unhealthy and unsustainable for even the most dedicated high school students”.

While we may not all grow up to be Michelle Obama’s, we shouldn’t allow ourselves to base our confidence gap to think that the difference between a 91 and a 99 determines our self-value.

Dina John

 

 

Edited by Sam Lacey