Reshma Saujani is the founder of the non-profit organization called Girls who Code. Her vision and mission is to inspire, to educate to support and increase the number of women in computer sciences. The organization runs summer programs which teach computing and programming skills to high school girls to help them pursue 21st century job opportunities.
Coding is an endless process between success and failure. But there is a big difference between boys and girls and their way of approaching a challenge. As an experiment, Reshma tests her thoughts by offering an example of a young man who is stuck in his project and asks for help from his teacher: Sir, I’m really stuck with this project, could you help me please?
A young woman who is struggling with the same project also asks for help of her teacher:
Mister, I do not know what is wrong with me but I’m struggling with myself in this project.
As you can see, there is a significant difference in the way the man and the woman ask the question. The young man focusses on success and wants to get better and go for it. The young girl focusses on what she could have done wrong, which is keeping her back from achieving her goal.
Perfection vs Bravery
Well, I’m a person who’s not an expert in science. But there is one thing that caught my attention. In her TEDx Talk Reshma says: “We raise our girls to be perfect and we raise our boys to be brave.” This line got me thinking. Let’s just add a bit of a personal story. When I was a young girl my beloved Dad was always very protective: Be careful, keep your dress clean, always be polite, don’t climb in that tree because you can fall down. He wanted to protect me of course but I had the feeling that I constantly was raised to look perfect and behave nice. To my parents it was totally fine that my brother’s clothes were always dirty and that he climbed that tall cherry tree of ours because boys do that and girls don’t. Automatically I developed myself into a little tomboy and I proved to myself and to my Dad that to be brave is way more important to me than to be a nice and perfect looking person. So what is more important and brings more value into this society worldwide? To raise a girl who is perfect or to raise a girl who is courageous and capable to achieve all her dreams? I became the last one and there are millions of others in the world who are just like me or who are willing to be. So my question is:
Do women need a little more confidence?
The secret lies in the socialization of perfection. If young girls are taught to feel comfortable with their imperfections and to be brave instead of perfect, early in their careers, they will feel more confident about the person they are and the women they want to become. Instead of constantly teaching to play it safe and avoiding all risks and failures, we need to teach them to be brave and climb to the top of the iceberg and explore the unknown with all its imperfections. Reshma Soujani is a woman with a vision. Listen to her inspiring TEDxTalk below.
Author: Diana Gács