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The Confidence Gap and Psychology

Updated May 6, 2022
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The Confidence Gap and Psychology essay

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Introduction

The article that I will be analyzing is “The Confidence Code for Girls” which is written by Claire Shipman and Katty Kay with the show “1a.” The topic of this paper is what the confidence gap is, how girls are treated now, and how things should change. The other articles that I will be referring to are “The Confidence Gap in Girls”, “How Girls Can Overcome Self-Doubt and Close the Confidence Gap”, “How to Help Young Girls Keep Their Confidence During Puberty”, and “Women 40% more likely than men to develop mental illness, study finds”. Girls lose confidence in themselves at early ages, and it is society’s fault. According to research, women are up to 40% more likely to develop mental health problems than men. Society’s pressure and expectations of young girls leads to depression, anxiety disorders, and eating disorders. I do think that the article I am analyzing is valid because I have witnessed the “Confidence Gap” first-hand.

Critical Analysis of the Article

As soon as girls enter the pubescent stage of their lives, they encounter many hardships triggered by society. Aside from the natural problems that girls have to deal with at this time, they have to deal with society’s pressures and expectations. According to the article, “In a recent survey, twelve-year-old girls tended to average around an eight when responding. But fourteen-year-old girls answered with an average of six” when asked “On a scale of one to ten, how confident are you?” (Claire Shipman and Katty Kay, 2018). The main point of this article is to address the confidence gap between boys and girls when they are the same age and how we should work to close the gap. The confidence gap forms when girls have a major decline in their self-confidence, while boys gain confidence. Society often condones boys’ behavior because “boys will be boys,” all the while girls are being judged for every decision they make. This article could have more statistics to prove its point, but I believe the article got its point across. The author(s) talk about how we can create confidence if needed, because confidence is required in our everyday decision making. I agree that we can build on the confidence we already have, and we can even create confidence. However, society does make it difficult for girls to build their confidence when everyone tries so hard to tear it down.

Journal Articles

According to perfectlyawkwardtales.com, “Boys are expected to be loud, rowdy roughhousers. They get into trouble 8 times more often than girls at school, but they also get comfortable with risk and failure. They rarely get the perfectionist messaging that comes down on girls from many angles, including body image, good grades, soft voices, playing cooperatively and so on.” (Princess Ivana, Magdalene Smith, and Marisa Smith, 2018). As I stated earlier, boys’ behavior is condoned while girls are judged for everything. Society has set different standards for boys and girls. The article suggests that low confidence during the teen years translates into adulthood. Women are less likely to take risks than men. Women are more hesitant to “ask for a raise, go for a job they want, or speak up in meetings” (Princess Ivana, Magdalene Smith, and Marisa Smith, 2018) than men are. Men are more likely to overestimate their abilities while women are more likely to underestimate their abilities. “Women by nature are spirited and strong, but in our culture, we are more likely to get negative feedback about being assertive, while men are rewarded for being assertive.” (Princess Ivana, Magdalene Smith, and Marisa Smith, 2018). There is a double-standard that needs to be stopped. This journal article agrees with me and my main articles that the confidence gap needs to close. This article suggests that the way to close the confidence gap is “by sowing the seeds of the future in our children now.” (Princess Ivana, Magdalene Smith, and Marisa Smith, 2018). Girls need to be taught that is okay to be opinionated, spirited, and even loud!

Application of the Models of Behavior

The first model of behavior that I will be applying to the topic discussed in the articles is evolutionary. An evolutionary psychologist would research the different confidence levels in men and women from the earliest statistics available and recent studies. They would also research how evolution played a role in the confidence gap. I think evolution has played a huge role in establishing a “higher sex” and the confidence gap. Men have always been considered the greater sex because they are the ones who hunted for food, provided for their families, and worked every day. Men were able to vote before women, work before women, join the military before women, etc. With men doing all the work and being treated like humans since the beginning of time, it’s no surprise that women have lower self-confidence than boys. Women have been treated as inferiors to men forever now, and it has translated into low confidence levels in girls of all ages. Two questions that the evolutionary model would ask are: 1. What changed in the brain to bring this awareness to the light? And 2. Why have men always been seen as the dominant gender? Another model of behavior that I will be applying to the topic of the article is social. A social psychologist would research the different environments the affected people were raised in. Gerald Caplan proposed that social conditions and interactions dispose people to mental illness. Low confidence in girls is due to social conditions and interactions. As I stated earlier, girls get the “perfectionist message” from society telling them that they need to get “good grades, play cooperatively, speak softly, and have the perfect body.” (Princess Ivana, Magdalene Smith, and Marisa Smith, 2018).

Parents who raise their children unequally also contribute to the confidence gap. When parents tell their sons that “boys will be boys” while holding their daughters to high and completely different standards, they are condoning the difference in confidence levels in boys and girls. Two questions that the social model would ask are: 1. What kind of environment were the affected raised in? And 2. How long has the affected felt like they had low confidence and what triggered it? The last model of behavior that I will be applying to the topic of the articles is reductionism. A reductionist psychologist would research how such a complex problem could be reduced into a simple thing. Reductionism refers to a theory that seems to over-simplify human behavior. I think this fits in well with the confidence gap. People don’t pay attention to the fact that boys and girls are raised completely different. Boys are supposed to be rowdy, girls are supposed to speak softly. Boys can get bad grades, girls are expected to excel at academics. Roughhousing is all right when it comes to boys, but girls should play cooperatively with others. There is a very clear double-standard, but it is ignored by many. Due to reductionism, there is no “explaining the complexity of the mind,” girls are just seen as inferior without any second thought. Two questions that the reductionism model would ask are: 1. How can the confidence gap be simplified? And 2. How can using reductionism help explain or fix the confidence gap? The model that best explains the confidence gap is the social model. The social model suggests that the lack of confidence is due to the environment and interactions with society. Society is the biggest factor in why we have a confidence gap.

Conclusion

I think the article is valid and portrays a very valid point. The two journal articles that I researched are valid as well. All the articles I used gave an adequate amount of proof and statistics to get their point across. There is a major double-standard between boys and girls that has contributed to the confidence gap. Boys and girls have been raised differently for quite some time now, and all of society condones it. Men are the dominant sex and that’s how it has always been. However, the inferiority of women has led to mental illnesses such as depression, anxiety disorders, and eating disorders. The confidence gap needs to be closed by raising children equally and not holding girls to higher, unrealistic expectations. I have always been aware of the double-standard between boys and girls because I was raised as the only girl with two brothers. Their rowdy behavior and bad grades were always overlooked, while I was expected to act “lady-like” and get good grades at all times. Since I experienced the confidence gap firsthand, I believe this topic is very important to address. This paper taught me that the confidence gap is REAL and world-wide. Viewing this topic from the different models of behavior has given me different perspectives on it, but my standing on the topic remains the same. The confidence gap needs to be closed.

Works Cited

  1. Princess Ivana, Magdalene Smith and Marisa Smith (2018). The Confidence Gap in Girls. Retrieved from: https://www.perfectlyawkwardtales.com/blogs/news/87998150-the-confidence-gap-in-girls
  2. Katty Kay, Claire Shipman and JillEllyn Riley (April 20, 2018). How to Help Young Girls Keep Their Confidence During Puberty. Retrieved from: http://time.com/5247275/confidence-gap-girls/
  3. Rachel Simmons (2018). How Girls Can Overcome Self-Doubt and Close the Confidence Gap. Retrieved from: https://www.thriveglobal.com/stories/how-girls-can-overcome-self-doubt-and-close-the-confidence-gap/
  4. Clair Shipman and Katty Kay (April 5, 2018). The Confidence Code for Girls. Retrieved from:
  5. https://the1a.org/shows/2018-04-05/the-confidence-code-for-girls
  6. James Ball (May 22, 2018). Women 40% More Likely Than Men to Develop Mental Illness, Study Finds. Retrieved from: https://www.theguardian.com/society/2013/may/22/women-men-mental-illness-study
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