In the article “Why Girls Beat Boys at Schools and Lose to them at the Office,” author Lisa Damour describes that even though girls do better academically, they are still not getting the recognition they deserve for working so hard. Boys and girls may receive the same grades, but it is seen that girls put more effort into their work than boys because they are afraid of making a mistake.
For example, Damour stated that between an eighth-grade girl and a ninth-grade boy in her practice who were siblings, the girl said that she was overwhelmed by school and made sure that her grades were unmistakeable by spending an hour on each assignment (Damour). She noted that she felt “safe” only if she did this routinely. On the contrary, her brother would do the same assignments and fly through them and still get the same grade as her.
As a result, journalists Katty Kay and Claire Shipman, who wrote The Confidence Gap, “found that a shortage of competence is less likely to be an obstacle than a shortage of confidence.” In detail, it is found that girls are more self-disciplined regarding their school work than boys are. Girls may study harder and get better grades, but men still have “95 percent of the top positions in the largest public companies” (Damour).
As men experience that they can get away with exerting minimal effort in school, they develop a type of confidence that gets them to the top. On the other hand, girls may focus so much on studying for the “perfect” academic grades that they may discredit their own abilities and/or miss opportunities for building their confidence.
As girls grow up, remind them that they are intelligent and can work hard but at the same time balance out their lives with fun and rewards for doing so well and applying so much effort. We want them to build more confidence with their work, without developing more anxiety. Women may put so much pressure on themselves to do well and stress that everything needs to be perfect. The main question Damour asks is “how do we get hyper-conscientious girls (and boys, as there certainly are some with the same style) to build both confidence and competence at school?”
For more information on girls, confidence, and anxiety, please contact us. To learn how we can help you or your child who may be struggling with their confidence at school or at the office, contact us or visit our website. For more information on therapy, visit Hilber Psychological Services.
- Written by Lily Schmitt and Tanya L. Hilber, PsyD
Damour, Lisa. (2019, Feb 7). Why Girls Beat Boys at School and Lose to Them at the Office. The New York Times. Opinion. Web. https://www.nytimes.com/2019/02/07/opinion/sunday/girls-school-confidence.html.
Kay, Katty & Shipman, Claire. (2014, May). The Confidence Gap. Retrieved from https://www.theatlantic.com/magazine/archive/2014/05/the-confidence-gap/359815/.