It’s a paradox familiar to parents everywhere…
…girls are achieving like never before, yet they’re consumed with doubt on the inside. Girls worry constantly about how they look, what people think, whether to try out for a sports team or school play, why they aren’t getting “perfect” grades, and how many likes and followers they have online.
For the past three years, as our book for women The Confidence Code continues to thrive, the requests for us to speak at corporations and schools and nonprofits have been almost overwhelming. As we traveled the country, we’ve discovered that the mothers and fathers we meet are desperate for help translating the Confidence Code into a formula that works for girls, so that their daughters can be empowered, from a young age, by the power and satisfaction of a confident life. We heard their pleas.
The state of girls
In 1991 a seminal study came out that showed that girls suffer a dramatic loss of confidence between the ages of 9-14. The study found that in late elementary school 60% of girls said they were happy with who they were. By early high school that number plummeted to 29%.
A lot has happened to the world of girls in the last 30 years. Social media, for example, has accelerated the pressure to be perfect. 92% of teen girls would like to change something about the way they look, and 8 in 10 girls opt out of sports, school activities, getting together with friends if they don’t feel good about how they look.
Meanwhile, boys and men have outsized confidence—they are 3X more likely as girls and women to say they were smarter than a classmate they had worked closely with. (NYT)
That’s a crisis.
We conducted a national poll of girls 8-18 in combination with the teen research center YPulse to capture a picture of today’s confidence gap in girls.