So many women gravitate towards professions they know they’re going to be great in, they know they’re going to be perfect in and it’s no wonder why. Most girls are taught to avoid risk and failure, they’re taught to smile pretty, play it safe, get all As. Boys on the other hand are taught to play rough, swing high, climb to the top of the monkey bars and then just jump off. By the time they’re adults, whether they are negotiating a raise or even asking someone out on a date, they are habituated to take risk after risk and are rewarded for it. No one even takes you seriously unless you’ve had two failed start-up businesses and that is all due to risk.
In other words, we are raising our girls to be perfect and we are raising our boys to be brave but we aren’t raising our girls to be brave. In the 1980s, psychologist Carol Dweck looked at how 5th graders handled an assignment that was too difficult for them. She found that bright girls were quick to give up: the higher the IQ, the more likely they were to give up whereas boys on the other hand found the difficult material to be a challenge and energizing and were more likely to double their efforts. The difference isn’t in ability; it’s in how girls and boys approach a challenge. An HP report found that men will apply for a job if they meet only 60% of the qualifications but women will apply ONLY if they meet 100% of the qualifications. It shows that women have been socialized to aspire to perfection and they’re overly cautious.
When we teach girls to be brave and we have a supportive network cheering them on, they will build incredible things. So I need each of you to tell every young woman you know – your sister, your niece, your employee, your cousin – to be comfortable with imperfections. When we teach girls to be imperfect, then we help them leverage it; we will build a movement of young women who are brave and who will build a better world for themselves and for each and every one of us.