Hermione Granger of the Harry Potter books has become a role model for studious students.
Girls outperform boys in School, but not in the workforce, writes psychologist Lisa Damour in a New York Times commentary. What if school is a confidence factory for our sons, but only a competence factory for our daughters?” she asks.
From elementary school through college, girls are more disciplined about their schoolwork than boys; they study harder and get better grades.
. . . And, yet men nonetheless hold a staggering 95 percent of the top positions in the largest public companies.
What if those same habits that propel girls to the top of their class — their hyper-conscientiousness about schoolwork — also hold them back in the work force?
Business women suffer from a “confidence gap,”, argue Katty Kay and Claire Shipman in a 2014 Atlantic story. Men charge ahead, while women “feel confident only when they are perfect.”
As a psychologist, Damour has met perfectionist teenage girls, who “count on intellectual elbow grease,” and their not-so-diligent brothers, who succeed with as little effort as possible.
She suggests parents and teachers urge students to study efficiently, not compulsively.
Finally, we can affirm for girls that it is normal and healthy to feel some anxiety about school. Too often, girls are anxious even about being anxious, so they turn to excessive studying for comfort.
. . . 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.
Damour has a book coming out this week, Under Pressure: Confronting the Epidemic of Stress and Anxiety in Girls.
Gentle readers, what do you think?
I’m not sure male confidence is learned in the classroom. Overall, boys have a much harder time than girls in school, get in trouble more, are seen as too boisterous, etc. Few are doing the minimum and getting A’s. (Of course, very few will grow up to be CEOs.)
I think my confidence primarily comes from my parents. They acted as though my opinion was worth hearing. It also comes from working hard and doing well in school: Knowing you’re capable of doing the work needed to get the job done is a confidence builder.
Of course, I wasn’t nuts. My first-grade teacher complained to my parents that I never did extra-credit work. When they asked me about it, I said, “If I do it and it’s not perfect, I have to copy it over. We don’t get grades, so why bother?” They agreed that I had a point.
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