Psychologist Carol Dweck conducted a series of studies in the 1980s, looking at how Bright Girls and boys in the fifth grade handled new, difficult and confusing material.
She found that Bright Girls, when given something to learn that was particularly foreign or complex, were quick to give up; the higher the girls’ IQ, the more likely they were to throw in the towel. In fact, the straight-A girls showed the most helpless responses. Bright boys, on the other hand, saw the difficult material as a challenge, and found it energizing. They were more likely to redouble their efforts rather than give up.
…More often than not, Bright Girls believe that their abilities are innate and unchangeable, while bright boys believe that they can develop ability through effort and practice.
…We continue to carry these beliefs, often unconsciously, around with us throughout our lives… Bright Girls 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.
…How often have you found yourself avoiding challenges and playing it safe, sticking to goals you knew would be easy for you to reach? Are there things you decided long ago that you could never be good at? Skills you believed you would never possess? If the list is a long one, you were probably one of the Bright Girls — and your belief that you are “stuck” being exactly as you are has done more to determine the course of your life than you probably ever imagined. This would be fine, if your abilities were innate and unchangeable. Only they’re not.
No matter the ability — whether it’s intelligence, creativity, self-control, charm or athleticism — studies show them to be profoundly malleable. When it comes to mastering any skill, your experience, effort and persistence matter a lot.
The Trouble with Bright Girls by Heidi Grant Halvorson
OH MY FUCKING GOD
THIS EXPLAINS MY ENTIRE FUCKING LIFE
we need to give female characters more hero arcs, to show girls that they can continue to strive and be better even through adversity.
because don’t for a second think that there’s a coincidence in the fact that boys feel more confident about overcoming strife, when male characters are given vastly disproportionate representation as protagonists undergoing the trials of a hero arc + and when there are so few hero arcs for female characters smart girls (who consume all these narratives so voraciously with their hungry minds) don’t feel the same confidence in their ability to triumph.