The manatee watches...

Apr 30, 2013

Teach Girls To Be More Like Boys? You're Making It Worse.

An article on CNN today gets gender bias issues rather ironically wrong. My wife and I were talking about this topic the other day. She would take issue with the title of this editorial, I believe. Not because the goal is wrong, but rather because the framing presented at the very outset is inherently gender biased. I would tend to agree with her.

My own suggestion, in our earlier conversation, was that, rather than teaching "girls to be more like boys" our efforts might be better focused on making masculine traits less male. That is to say, as long as we characterize positive external traits (confidence, assertiveness, etc) as being masculine traits, they will continue to be dominated by males.

If we're going to encourage young women to take on these traits, we need to make them gender-neutral, universally acceptable traits. I am not suggesting that we rename them or some other superficial, token gesture. I am simply pointing out that, when we want a woman to succeed, we can't simply say to her "be more like a man". We need to say "be strong; be confident", without the pretenses of taking on masculine qualities.

In the interest of full disclosure, I should add that I am a graduate of the high school mentioned in the article.


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