I’m a mom to a beautiful little girl. I have spent most of my waking hours thinking about how to raise her to be a risk taker in life. Often girls are taught to avoid risk and failure, smile pretty, play safe. Boy’s on the other hand are taught to play rough, swing high, and then just jump off head first. In other words we are raising our girls to be perfect and boys to be brave.
In the 1980s, psychologist Carol Dweck looked at how bright girls and boys in the fifth grade handled difficult and confusing material. She found that bright girls were quick to give up. Bright boys, on the other hand, found the difficult material to be a challenge and energizing. At the fifth grade level, girls routinely outperform boys in every subject. So it’s not a question of ability.
This invoked as evidence women have been socialized to aspire to perfection, and that socialization of perfection has caused us to take less risk in our careers. Look at opportunities that are open right now in computing and tech, women are being left behind, and on all the innovations and problems women would solve if they were socialized to be brave instead of being perfect. We have to show our girls they are loved and accepted not for being perfect only but for brave.
For our economy to grow to truly innovate, we cannot leave behind half our population, we have to socialize our girls to be comfortable with imperfections. We can not wait for them to learn how to be brave at the age of 30 like most of us. We have to show them they are loved and accepted for being brave.