Learning To Be Brave: Gender Socialization Of Risk-Taking
Start writing a post
Politics and Activism

Learning To Be Brave: Gender Socialization Of Risk-Taking

Women are falling behind in the professional world because girls play patty cake while boys climb the jungle gym

Learning To Be Brave: Gender Socialization Of Risk-Taking

When was the last time you risked failure? If you are a male, you probably rolled the dice pretty recently. Yet with females, it may have been a long while.

Reshma Saujani, a 40-year-old female lawyer said, "I was 33 years oldand it was the first time in my entire lifethat I had done something that was truly brave." She was speaking of when she ran for Congress and confesses this to a full audience at her recent TED talk, posted March 7 on TED's Facebook page, just in time for International Women's Day, March 8.

She argued boys are raised to be brave and perceive failure as the ultimate challenge and motivator. Meanwhile, girls are raised to be cautious, do their best and never fail. She described the indoctrination of children perfectly: "[Girls are] taught to smile pretty,play it safe, get all A's.Boys, on the other hand, are taught to play rough, swing high,crawl to the top of the monkey bars and then just jump off headfirst." Saujani's goal, with her establishment of Girls Who Code, an organization that works with young females to teach computer coding, is to change the way girls are taught to avoid failure.

After watching Saujani's video, I realized she perfectly explained the root of all the mental and emotional anguish I have experienced in my education and professional life. I always thought it was just my perfectionist personality, but now I realize that no matter how "carefree" a girl may seem, females feel pressure to be perfect, while boys just don't.

Saujani mentioned females will purposely pick career paths which they know they will excel in. When I was applying to colleges, I declared a major in history and a minor in secondary education. I decided that instead of taking different classes and finding my interests, I would follow what I enjoyed in high school and conform to a career I knew I would be perfect at: teaching high school in my hometown. While I do still consider teaching as a secondary career, I realize now that my career decision was exactly what Saujani discussed. While I often had thoughts along the lines of "Is that really going to be all I do with my life?" and "Should I be aiming higher?", I always reasoned the queries away. I pushed them out because when I thought of failing at another career, suddenly being a high school teacher in my hometown was much more appealing and, more importantly, safe.

Saujani brought up an important statistic in her talk. "An HP report found that men will apply for a jobif they meet only 60 percent of the qualifications,but women...will applyonly if they meet 100 percent of the qualifications," she said. I did not doubt this statistic for one second. Even when I meet 100 percent of the requirements, sometimes I still don't apply because I feel my odds are not good enough against the competition. This shows the lack of confidence women have because they feel the need to be perfect and this gender socialization of girls is causing crippling effects in their adult lives. It also causes girls to be more susceptible to developing anxiety disorders, considering that a lack of confidence leads to doubts and the expectation of perfection leads to worries of being insufficient. Women will always be disadvantaged if this trend of socializing our children continues.

I grew up on a farm, which forced my sister and me to take on very different lives than most girls we went to school with. We were taught to think outside the box when we faced an obstacle, whether that be trying to move a heavy tree our dad cut to chop firewood or getting our horses to listen despite us being fractions of their size. Our father taught us we could be just as good (or better) than boys at shooting, cattle roping (or, in our case, goats) and anything else we wanted to do. Yet, I still have the problems Saujani explained when it comes to my career and education. I can handle the home-oriented tasks because our parents taught us to view them as little challenges and puzzles, yet anything concerning academic or career tasks are saturated in anxiety and self-doubt.

This is the motivation behind Saujani's Girls Who Code that is beautifully changing the stigma women have against themselves in the professional world. She is tackling the challenges in fields that have a disproportionate ratio of men to women with teaching girls how to code. Saujani's organization is effective not only because it teaches coding and teaches girls they don't need to strive to be perfect, but also because it teaches girls that they can be brave and successful. In honor of International Women's Day, we should applaud Saujani for her incredible efforts and pass the lesson along.

Take a class that isn't an "easy A" for you, try a new hobby you were always too scared of failing at and encourage young girls to be whatever they want to be, especially if that might mean being imperfect.

Report this Content
This article has not been reviewed by Odyssey HQ and solely reflects the ideas and opinions of the creator.
the beatles
Wikipedia Commons

For as long as I can remember, I have been listening to The Beatles. Every year, my mom would appropriately blast “Birthday” on anyone’s birthday. I knew all of the words to “Back In The U.S.S.R” by the time I was 5 (Even though I had no idea what or where the U.S.S.R was). I grew up with John, Paul, George, and Ringo instead Justin, JC, Joey, Chris and Lance (I had to google N*SYNC to remember their names). The highlight of my short life was Paul McCartney in concert twice. I’m not someone to “fangirl” but those days I fangirled hard. The music of The Beatles has gotten me through everything. Their songs have brought me more joy, peace, and comfort. I can listen to them in any situation and find what I need. Here are the best lyrics from The Beatles for every and any occasion.

Keep Reading...Show less
Being Invisible The Best Super Power

The best superpower ever? Being invisible of course. Imagine just being able to go from seen to unseen on a dime. Who wouldn't want to have the opportunity to be invisible? Superman and Batman have nothing on being invisible with their superhero abilities. Here are some things that you could do while being invisible, because being invisible can benefit your social life too.

Keep Reading...Show less

19 Lessons I'll Never Forget from Growing Up In a Small Town

There have been many lessons learned.

houses under green sky
Photo by Alev Takil on Unsplash

Small towns certainly have their pros and cons. Many people who grow up in small towns find themselves counting the days until they get to escape their roots and plant new ones in bigger, "better" places. And that's fine. I'd be lying if I said I hadn't thought those same thoughts before too. We all have, but they say it's important to remember where you came from. When I think about where I come from, I can't help having an overwhelming feeling of gratitude for my roots. Being from a small town has taught me so many important lessons that I will carry with me for the rest of my life.

Keep Reading...Show less
​a woman sitting at a table having a coffee

I can't say "thank you" enough to express how grateful I am for you coming into my life. You have made such a huge impact on my life. I would not be the person I am today without you and I know that you will keep inspiring me to become an even better version of myself.

Keep Reading...Show less
Student Life

Waitlisted for a College Class? Here's What to Do!

Dealing with the inevitable realities of college life.

college students waiting in a long line in the hallway

Course registration at college can be a big hassle and is almost never talked about. Classes you want to take fill up before you get a chance to register. You might change your mind about a class you want to take and must struggle to find another class to fit in the same time period. You also have to make sure no classes clash by time. Like I said, it's a big hassle.

This semester, I was waitlisted for two classes. Most people in this situation, especially first years, freak out because they don't know what to do. Here is what you should do when this happens.

Keep Reading...Show less

Subscribe to Our Newsletter

Facebook Comments