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Womens' Wavering Voices

By: Emily Fleischmann

As the years of my high school career have progressed, I’ve witnessed one common pattern: a deficit in female students' confidence in classrooms. The difference between male and female students' self-assurance isn’t apparent if you aren’t searching for it. However, when paying close attention to the details of the behaviors of high schoolers, this difference is clear.


The first time I noticed any sign of this trend was in my government class at the beginning of my sophomore year. One of my best friends raised her hand to answer a question and began her response with, "This may not be correct, but... I was immediately dismayed at her answer, as she rarely raised her hand in class, and this served as an explanation. It wasn’t due to a lack of comprehension of the content but rather apprehension about participating. This may seem like a common problem among all students, but I suspect it has a relationship to gender.


My male counterparts in the classroom have rarely demonstrated this same uncertainty in themselves. There are always the quieter students, but those cannot be compared to the ones who actually express self-doubt. No, I’m talking about the frequency of girls who derail their own credibility by beginning an answer hesitantly. In my math class the other day, another female classmate of mine raised her hand and said, "I’m probably wrong, but..." I was shocked to realize that this had been a subconscious comment from her.


I don't think it’s random that women frequently belittle their capabilities in the classroom. In a documentary about the current pop icon Taylor Swift, she agrees that women have been "trained to say sorry" by the "misogyny" we’ve internalized. I believe this has become highly applicable to the classroom environment. Without noticing, many of my female peers, along with myself, have developed the habit of showing uncertainty in ourselves. Not only is this damaging to one’s self-image, but it also causes hesitancy to speak out in class, which can ultimately stunt a student’s education.


Thus, I believe that it is imperative to first acknowledge this problem in order to ultimately nip it in the bud. I assume that this is a persistent issue, primarily due to the fact that women are unaware of this problem that plagues classrooms school-wide and maybe even on a larger scale. If people understand the occurrence of this phenomenon, women will likely be more aware of their actions. Inherently, this recognition will cause them to hopefully grow more confident with time. Nonetheless, since this issue likely stems from internalized misogyny, girls should be taught from a young age to find confidence in themselves.


With the final few days of school coming to a close, listen closely in your classrooms and see if you notice these same incidents. You may even be a survivor of the self-doubt epidemic yourself! If this applies to you, there’s always one backup solution that works without fail: fake it until you make it.




Miss Americana, 2020 Film

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