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Why Socializing Girls to Be Perfect Could Be the Worst Thing For Them

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Girls often excel in school, sitting quietly and following teacher directions more carefully than their male peers. There's evidence to suggest that girls are also being socialized to be perfect, which makes them less likely to tackle challenges in areas where they don't already excel. In her TED Talk, Reshma Saujani recognizes that tendency in herself, highlighting her first really courageous career move at age 33. She argues it's time society stops socializing girls to be perfect, because it's doing them harm in the long run.

Saujani founded Girls Who Code, an organization working to teach girls how to code. Saujani says coding teaches bravery because it requires trial and error, perseverance, and not being perfect. In the first week of a coding course, students will commonly call the instructor over and say "I don't know what code to write." The screen will be blank and the instructor could easily think the girl has been staring at a blank screen for 20 minutes. But when the instructor presses "undo" a few times, she sees the girl tried, wrote code that got pretty close, but didn't get it perfectly, so erased her work.

"Instead of showing the progress she made she'd rather show nothing," Saujani said. That's the mentality she believes educators and parents must fight against. Because if we can teach young girls to be brave, not perfect, they will add their intellect, compassion and empathy to solving the world's big problems.


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