A recent study by the American Girl Guiding Association showed that between nine and seventeen girls rapidly lose confidence and are less willing to admit to pride in their accomplishments. The worst part about this is, I'm not shocked - I grew up in a single sex school and I saw it happen before my very eyes. The confusing issue doesn't lie within the statistics, it lies within the question; just why do girls lose confidence into adulthood?
It's difficult to know where to start with this post, because the obvious answer with regards to where this diminishment of confidence in women as they get older stems from is simply: everywhere. Let's start with babies; boys are dressed in blue and given toys typical to traditionally viewed male stereotypical jobs - such as blocks and vehicles. Girls are instead dressed in pink and given traditionally female roles to play - dolls and kitchens to create and play families and homes. From day one, society teaches boy to grow up strong and girls to grow up well, it teaches boys to see girls romantically, but teaches girls that to let themselves take anything less than sex inside of a marriage bed is letting ourselves down.
Fast forward to school; kids replicate in their playground what they see in the real world around them. Typically, girls play hairdressers, house and school - whilst boys opt for football, fighting and fantasy. There are exceptions to the rule, but the fact is that girls don't typically find role models on the football field, nor do boys see doting single dads dealing with absent mothers on the TV. The fact is; it's not a coincidence that this is the way the preferences of activities fall between the genders - we isolate entire genders from certain roles by creating few and far between in the way of role models in the "opposite" activities for each gender.
By the time we reach say, fifteen, our respective virginities come into play - boys having losing theirs treated as a right, whilst girls are taught that they are to treat theirs as something precious not to be carelessly given away. In lessons, we are given lists and lists of names of men that changed, the world whilst we can count on one hand the women whose names remained strong in the history books. Men grew up with role models that inspired, invented and built the world around us, whereas a huge amount of female historical role models became so by fighting simply for their basic human rights. Without even realising that it's what we're doing, we continue to subconsciously remind men that they can change the world, whilst reminding women that the best that we can hope for is equality.
We pick up magazines and, as women, we are told how to stay skinny, how to dress better, how to apply make up, make ourselves physically more attractive. We see women after women pitted against each other and criticised for their looks, intelligence, anything at all that they can feasibly be judged upon. We see inspirational women call their peers out for who they see, what they wear and the things that they do. We see Kim Kardashian earn millions as a business woman, and yet she'll always be the woman who got famous from a sex tape. Who's the male equivalent to Kim? That in itself is a point - there isn't one, because we still hold up this archaic view as a society, that men being sexual is normal, but women being sexual is promiscuous.
It's no coincidence that we find our confidence falling as our awareness of the world grows. We see unmarried men as bachelors, whilst the world views unmarried women as spinsters. Men without children are deemed lucky and free, whilst women without children are deemed faulty. We grow up hearing our gender, our genitalia, used as an insult; with a million insults targeted specifically at women, whereas men have congratulatory words in their place. We are losing confidence in ourselves because our fight for equality is consistently written off as a hatred for men; because we are still second class citizens, both here but more so in the rest of the world, and our wanting more for ourselves is still see as a movement of rebellious behaviour.
I am a woman and I lost my confidence - but here's me saying; it's the world that's the problem, not our gender.