Girl failure

The stereotype that boys should be toughened by hard knocks, while little girls should be cossetted might be setting them up for a lifetime are hardships. Rachael Simmons piece “Why Failure Hits Girls So Hard” examines the challenges that young women have with embracing failure and their debilitating effects:

  • “Girls respond to failure differently than boys. When girls make mistakes, they’re more likely to interpret the setback as a sign they lack ability — a factor much harder for girls to change. Boys, on the other hand, tend to attribute failure to more controllable circumstances. The phenomenon has been traced in part to how teachers talk to students. In observational studies, teachers corrected girls for mistakes related to ability, while boys tended to get more behavioral interventions (‘Pipe down!’, ‘Stop throwing that paper airplane’; and so on). Other studies have found that girls are more likely to give up in the face of a stressful academic situation…Less known is how stereotype threat makes failure more bruising for girls. It works like this: when girls buy into the stereotype that they’re bad at math, they don’t see a missed problem or poor grade as a correctible issue. Instead, it confirms what everyone else knows — that they simply have less ability.”