Why does society reject bright girls?
At a time when machismo seems to be receding in a good number of countries, there is a paradoxical fact: girls show the same capacity as boys when it comes to learning, but they are treated with condescension more frequently and, when They stand out for their abilities, often they encounter the rejection of people from their environment.
And no, it's not a matter of envy. So ... what happens?
A problem linked to self-esteem
The researcher Heidi Grant Halvorston She wrote some time ago that part of the reason why girls tend not to be so stubborn and assertive is the way in which they see themselves, that is, their self-concept. The idea is that boys and girls perceive their abilities differently, but not because of genetic differences, but because of the way in which they have been taught to think about themselves. Specifically, he believes that bright girls or those with special talents tend to believe that they are born with a series of abilities that they can not change , while children, regardless of their abilities, believe more in the possibility of improving learning.
When children encounter difficulties, because there is something they do not understand or have not yet learned to do, the people in their environment encourage them to continue and they are reminded of the importance of the culture of effort.
In the case of girls, however, condescension limits their learning. When they do something well, they are rewarded with kind words about how ready they are, or how well they are given studies. This, which in principle is something positive, has a double edge: girls internalize a type of discourse that constantly reminds them that if they succeed in a task it is because they "are like that" , because it is part of their identity, and not the repertoire of behaviors they have learned.
Creating a culture of stigma
In this way, when they notice that there is something they do not know how to do, they believe that it is because, simply, they are not made for those tasks. In the same way, They will be surprised when other girls try very hard to master something they did not know how to do at first , and sometimes they can be stigmatized. In this way, a culture is created in which an idea that kills the development possibilities of many talented young people is internalized.
Brilliant girls have to deal, then, with a double obstacle: the difficulty of learning the skills necessary to prepare for adult life and, at the same time, the complexity of managing the negative reactions that their skills produce. But, of course, this rejection is not born only of other girls, but of many other people, because of the legacy of machismo.
The footprint of machismo in smart girls
Currently there are many studies that point to a curious phenomenon: compared to men, women are more likely to receive negative reactions when they adopt a role of authority. That is to say, that women who behave assertively find more problems than men when it comes to asserting themselves, whether it is asking for an increase, negotiating the distribution of tasks or proposing initiatives and strategies.
This disparity between men and women could well have its origin during the childhood years, in the way in which boys and girls interact with each other during recess, group activities. The role of women has traditionally been linked to housework and the raising of sons and daughters , a context characterized by stability and in which one can not stand out above other people. Competitiveness in an unstable and changing context was the task of men, who leave the house to earn money, differentiating themselves from the competition.
This makes the male role more related to individualism and differentiation through effort, while women adhered to much more discrete roles. The existence of bright and talented girls who struggle to polish their skills and who do not bother to adopt a low and discreet profile clashes with this conception of the tasks of men and women.
If girls with special talents receive a feedback Negative on the part of other people is, basically, because there where the education of these minors takes place there is also a cultural context with the presence of machismo to a greater or lesser degree.
It is to be assumed that addressing this social and collective problem will also improve something as individual as the way in which each of these young women experience their potential without being stigmatized by it.