It's about time our girls learn to be "brave" instead.
I’ve heard it said, “Catholicism is not for the faint of heart.” And how true it is. We have a long and beautiful tradition of saints who defied the odds, who took risks, who lived fiercely and courageously. But do we teach our own kids to be so brave?
We all have a preconceived idea of what a man or woman “should” be that shapes our expectations for children. Reshma Saujani, founder and CEO of Girls Who Code, says that there is one expectation for girls that we desperately need to change: perfectionism.
“Most girls are taught to avoid risk and failure,” she says. “They’re taught to smile pretty, play it safe, get all A’s. Boys, on the other hand, are taught to play rough, swing high, crawl to the top of the monkey bars and then just jump off.” In other words, girls are taught to be perfect; boys are taught to be brave.
In her TED talk on “the socialization of perfection,” Reshma Saujani quotes a study done in the 1980s by a psychologist who examined how fifth graders responded to an assignment that was beyond their capacity. The study found that intelligent girls gave up quickly. In fact, the higher a girl’s intelligence, the more likely she was not to try at all. Intelligent boys, however, loved the challenge and doubled their efforts.
With her company Girls Who Code, Reshma discovered that teaching girls to code also taught them to be brave. She explains, “Coding — it’s an endless process of trial and error with sometimes just a semicolon making the difference between success and failure. It requires perseverance. It requires imperfection.”
The message these young girls need: “They can fail and they can take big risks, and we’ll love them anyway.”
So let’s teach our girls to be brave. Let’s teach them to accept their imperfections and become the women God intended them to be.
You can hear more from Reshma in the video below.