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Motivating girls to do science...

SL Forsburg susan_forsburg at qm.salk.edu
Wed Mar 27 14:11:57 EST 1996

Anne Carpenter wrote:
> I wonder where this kind of low self-confidence comes from...I have
> really noticed it in my own life.  In my personal experience, I wonder if
> women are more likely to be embarassed and shy about their academic
> success whereas men are more likely to be proud, or even arrogant.  What
> causes this difference?  I have heard it said in intro Psychology courses
> that women are more likely to attribute success in academics
> (particularly science) to luck, and that men are more likely to attribute
> success to their high ability.  Where do we women get these unhealthy
> attitudes?

Another writer commented on the conflict between perceptions of
intelligence and femininity.  An additional negative reinforcement
is the fact that smart women are often treated as though they are
abnormal.  If the response to one's achievement is so often surprise
(as it is), then it's hard to avoid beginning to question wehther
there's something wrong with the achievement.  An "oh....YOU!"
response is hardly conducivce to positive self-image.  

And I've certainly heard the comments, in the rare case of a man
really mentoring and supporting a woman, "maybe she's sleeping with 
him."  Unspoken is the belief that she couldnt REALLY be that good,
could she?  What frustrates me is I hear this from relatively YOUNG
male scientists.  Just when you think the battle's over....

Feeling particularly cynical,


S L Forsburg                             
susan_forsburg at qm.salk.edu        
 "I don't speak for the Institute,         
 and the Institute doesnt speak for me."

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