"That's Not Fair!" -- Equal Treatment for Boys and Girls
In the AAUW study, boys who reported doing poorly in math and science usually ascribed their performance to the topics' lack of useful-ness, while girls who reported a lack of success in these areas often attributed the problem to personal failure.
The Not Good-Enough Girl
Our daughters carry another burden. While parents tell them that they should be strong and independent and men's equals in every way, society also says, “Yes, be strong and independent, but be feminine, passive, and above all, polite (which often translates into being unassertive and compliant) at the same time.”
The damaging effects of this mixed message have been well-documented in “Shortchanging Girls, Shortchanging America,” a study conducted by the American Association of University Women (AAUW). The study showed that many of the girls studied felt good about themselves at age nine. But by the end of adolescence, external influences had chipped away at the self-images of the majority of the girls.
Encourage your daughter to be academically competitive in everything from English to science and math. There is no reason for girls to do less well in what have been considered “male” subjects; make sure she knows you believe that. (Some schools report that girls do better in math classes divided by gender. If your school system offers that option, you might want to look into it.)
Perhaps the greatest favor we can do for our boys' and girls' self-esteem is to break stereotypes and simply work to raise good people.
More on: Teen Behavior and Discipline
Excerpted from The Complete Idiot's Guide to Parenting a Teenager © 1996 by Kate Kelly. All rights reserved including the right of reproduction in whole or in part in any form. Used by arrangement with Alpha Books, a member of Penguin Group (USA) Inc.
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