Jennifer Somers | Editor
Before reaching puberty, young girls begin to face the pressure to be perfect. As they mature, society’s mighty hands shape girls like clay into the “ideal woman,” one that’s delicate, soft-spoken, modest and submissive to authority. Any girl that doesn’t exactly fit the mold is looked down upon and force-fed the criticism that she’s not feminine enough.
At the same time that the girls are taught obedience and restraint, young boys are taught ambition and bravery. The boys, encouraged by society, often grow up to be men that are strong, loud, fearless and independent.
The inconsistency of expectations among the two sexes accounts for differences in goals, aspirations and, most importantly, confidence through all aspects of life.
In school, girls are overwhelmed by the pressure of their parents and society to perform well academically. Because of this, women are beginning to outnumber men on college campuses, representing roughly 57 percent of enrollments at U.S. colleges since 2000, according to the American Council on Education. It also has been shown that girls typically have higher grades than their male counterparts in nearly every subject.
Despite this, when it comes to in-class participation, boys are far more likely to raise their hands to answer a teacher’s question. This traces back to the idea that boys are far more confident in themselves and their abilities, and girls are less likely to take risks.
If a girl knows the answer to a teacher’s question, she still might hesitate to raise her hand due to the possibility of getting the answer wrong in front of the class. Boys, having higher self-esteems, would usually raise their hands if they knew the answer, and if they got the answer wrong, they would still be confident enough to take the risk again in the future.
The lack of confidence among girls continues on after graduation, in the workplace. Many working women are too critical of their abilities to apply for promotions, ask their bosses for a raise or pursue adventurous job opportunities. As a result, the Wall Street Journal reports that men are 30 percent more likely to be promoted to management roles than women.
Upon reviewing personnel records, computer and printing company HP found that women who worked there applied for a promotion only when they believed they met 100 percent of the qualifications for the job. Men there, on the other hand, were happy to apply when they thought they could meet 60 percent of the qualifications. This is a clear example how confidence can influence a person’s career.
Women may also have a hard time devoting themselves entirely to furthering their career the way that men can because, if they have a family, society still expects women to assume the role of the “perfect mother” and homemaker.
Women in the Workplace 2017, a comprehensive study of the state of women in corporate America, found that women with a partner and children are around 6 times more likely than their male counterparts to do all or most of the household work, even when they are primary breadwinners.
Paying more attention to work than home would cause a woman to be labeled as a bad mother or wife, and paying more attention to home than work could hurt her career. This balancing act of work and home can be difficult and adds to the already heavy burden on the shoulders of women.
The best way to combat the confidence inequality between men and women is by changing the way that young girls are raised.
Girls should be encouraged to take risks, learn from their mistakes and have confidence in their own abilities. By questioning their abilities and hesitating to take chances, girls are only holding themselves back from reaching their full potential.
Only when girls continuously tell themselves that they are talented and can do anything they aspire so long as they put forth the effort will they start to believe it. Only when they believe in themselves will they begin to succeed.