To Teach Our Girls
How to Encourage Bravery and Get More Engineers Alongside Us
When we teach girls to be brave, and have a supportive network cheering them on, they will build incredible things. I see this every day at McDAY.
Reshma Saujani is the founder of Girls Who Code, and her TED Talk, entitled “Teach Girls Bravery, Not Perfection”, delves deeply into the reasons why girls are often the minority when majoring in a technical field. My best friend, a mechanical engineering student, experienced this being one of four or five females in a classroom of forty college students. Saujani discusses why, in my business classes, my male counterparts raise their hands more often, ask more questions, and feel overall more comfortable drawing attention to themselves. Listening to her talk, I was on more than one occasion struck by the feeling that she was personally asking me to be conscious of all the times that I had frantically searched online for the answers to my questions in class as opposed to just asking for help. Her explanation is a simple one, and it’s a striking reason why the ratio of girls in STEM is still staggering – we teach our boys to be brave, and teach our girls to be perfect.
Saujani’s talk explains that, at a young age, girls generally surpass their male classmates in every area of their schoolwork, but when given a complex problem, they are also more likely to give up, while the boys see it as a challenge. Systematically, from their time on the playground to asking a girl on a date for the first time, boys are encouraged to take risks. As I was growing up, even in an extremely supportive environment, I can still remember being applauded for an intelligence that came naturally to me, but feeling completely mortified when I just couldn’t grasp something. This is not something girls will just grow out of naturally.
We have to socialize our girls to be comfortable with imperfection, and we have to do it now. We cannot wait for them to learn how to be brave. We have to teach them to be brave, in schools, and early in their careers, when it has the most potential to impact their lives and the lives of others, and we have to show them that they will be loved and accepted not for being perfect, but for being courageous.
Here at McDAY, confident women in STEM and PR thrive on the things that used to scare me: asking questions, working with complicated projects, and pushing out of their comfort zones. With every new project I’ve worked on comes a simple and encouraging, “just give it a try”. Thanks, McDay for providing such a courageous example to one intern like me, this past summer of 2017.