Recently I read an article entitled The Trouble with Bright Girls by Heidi Grant Halvorsen, PhD. For the most part, Halvorsen explains that while the male counterparts have the confidence to push on when frustrated, often females become withdrawn in the school setting. This in turn affects the development of our self-concept. She writes, "We(Women) continue to carry these beliefs, often unconsciously, around with us throughout our lives. And because Bright Girls are particularly likely to see their abilities as innate and unchangeable, they grow up to be women who are far too hard on themselves -- women who will prematurely conclude that they don't have what it takes to succeed in a particular arena, and give up way too soon."
As I read this piece, I couldn't help but think of my sister and myself, and then of course, I thought of Mo & Maeve. My sister is a pediatrician and one of the most studious people I have ever met. She is the type who will begin studying for an exam weeks before test day. She graduated second in her high school class and second in her class in college (she will curse the tin flute grade she got while studying abroad in Ireland over that). With all that accomplished, she still will tell you that she isn't that smart. She was offered two different placements to two different medical schools after a post-baccalaureate year and after finishing her residency earned a fellowship, which she ultimately turned down. She is smart, but like Halvorsen wrote, she is far too hard on herself. She looks at herself in terms of what she is not, instead of what she has accomplished. She is a successful professional and yet she still has that skewed view of herself.
I saw myself in this piece too. I have written before of my struggle with choosing to end my career as a teacher to stay at home full time and my hopes and fears of raising strong girls. I worry that my girls will succumb to this notion and in essence, become they're own worst enemies. I want them to be everything they want to be and have the confidence in themselves to do it.
I love my husband for many reasons, but in relation to this article I think of his confidence. He knows he is smart, period.
He may not be the most athletic and Lord knows he is not handy in the least, however he is smart. One cannot debate that with him. He tells me all the time, that I am too, and while I nod my head in agreement, most of the time I wonder if I'm nearly as intelligent as he believes. Is this what Halvorsen means? Is it because Bry's a guy that he is able to own his intelligence, while I debate it?
I have said on here in the past that I love school- both as a teacher and a student. I have talked about the possibility of returning to graduate school but for some reason I drag my feet over this. Reading this piece made me truly wonder if a part of me thinks I won't be able to handle it, and so instead of the chance of failure, I remain passive. I do nothing on the school front.
Is that what I would want for Mo or Maeve to do? Hell, is that what I would want for anyone I love to do, To be fearful of failing?
Heavy stuff for a Friday afternoon, right?
Reading pieces like this make me want to be that role model for Mo & Maeve. The one that is confident and smart and positive, because their eyes and ears are always open, even when I may not realize it.
On a lighter note, How about some pictures?
Mo & her birdhouse