Letter: My daughter is 12 and in 6th grade at a middle school. She has always been a good student interested in what she was learning. Lately, though, she seems much less interested and she's talking a lot less about what's going on with her teachers, her homework, things she's learning, etc. I'm worried about the change, is there anything I can do?
Unfortunately, you are not alone. We describe this issue in our new book, Still Failing at Fairness: How Gender Bias Cheats Girls and Boys in School and What We Can Do About It. Here is a brief excerpt: "Poised between preschool and adolescence, girls are full of energy, self-reliance, and purpose. They feel confident about what she can do and who she can become. Ready to try anything, their daily routine is the unexpected. They think they can be archeologists, detectives, clowns, authors, bungee jumpers consecutively or maybe all at once. Side by side with their brothers, these spunky girls rush forward eagerly to seek new challenges to test their mettle. Their world is wide and packed with possibilities.
"They love their lives, but they do not want to hold back time. They choose to keep going and to keep growing. They cannot see ahead to the mind- and body-altering changes yet to come.
"Like the tightening of a corset, adolescence closes around these precocious, authoritative girls. They begin to restrict their interests, confine their talents, pull back on their dreams. As they work on blending in with other girls, they move toward the end of their colorful phase."
While all this may sound like an overwhelming challenge, it is not. Parents and adults can play an important role in looking down the road, pointing out professional options and role models, and certainly discussing the power of education.
There are outside school options that also can build a girl's confidence. For example, Astronaut Sally Ride provides science festivals for girls, and many colleges offer special programs for girls as well. While it sometimes feels like your daughter is not listening, persist. Your comments and suggestions do stick. Giving her opportunities to speak at the dinner table, to voice her concerns and interests, can be a valuable opportunity for her to develop her own voice. And monitoring her friends and peers is also a good idea.
Back to Article Listings
|Page 1 out of 2|