Reshma Saujani Chooses Bravery For Girls
Girls Who Code founder Reshma Saujani gave a TED talk about education for young women. “I want women to be comfortable with being imperfect,” Saujani said in the talk. She said empowering girls to take on new or unfamiliar challenges will help them grow.
What Reshma Saujani highlights is a combination of the bravery/perfection quotient tied in with cultural gender roles. As a male, it’s easier to demonstrate if applied from a male perspective. Cheerleading is culturally “feminine”. As a man, if I were to try cheerleading, my failure would be from “lack of bravery.”
My difficulty with cheerleading, because it’s culturally “feminine”, would lead me to the conclusion that I’m not good at it because I’m not female. While it’s just as difficult for females, the bravery/perfection quotient that women similarly face undertaking culturally male pursuits would affect me as a male undertaking a culturally female pursuit.
When spending a Gladwell recommended 10,000 hours cheerleading still finds me inept, society would be more accepting of my failure because many men don’t do it probably because it’s considered feminine. In reality, cheerleading is equally as difficult for women given the same amount of time spent.
My male friends would expect me to struggle for the very same reason. Most men have no experience with cheerleading and wouldn’t be able to offer me little sympathy because of our current cultural mores.
If I revealed my cheerleading experience to my female friends, they’d most likely be somewhat suspicious of my endeavor. Men (in the same way as women) are concerned about how members of the opposite gender perceive them, which is inevitably a biological concern to every living non-asexual being.
It doesn’t just take bravery to overcome these challenges. It takes a willingness to walk a lonely path and face possible ostracism from both genders. It even goes so far as to even challenge one’s own identity.
Before Reshna Saujani, many have worked tirelessly on this issue for decades. Carol Gilligan wrote “A Different Voice” in 1982 presenting ground breaking research on how girls bend to societal norms around 4th & 5th grade. Perhaps rather than starting from scratch, we should build upon what has already began. There are currently more women in college and medical school, while more are working and longer in law.