Over the years, I have worked extensively with kids both as a professional requirement when I was developing products that would be right for the kids and as a volunteer when we went about teaching basic tenets of hygiene to kids.
Every single time I had walked into a consumer group, or in a classroom, one thing always amazed me. The girls outshone the boys. Every single time. When I visit the crèche at our office during the evenings; often to get away from the incessant emails and relive my childhood; I find the girls totally taking control. And it looks amazing.
However, as they grow up something happens. Often in countries like India, it is economical. The ‘future bread winner’, the ‘son’ continues his education while the daughter is asked to stay at home. And the bright sparks slowly die out. That is easily corrected and I am sure will be corrected.
But as I worked in other markets outside India, I saw this trend too. At times, I thought that bullies were to blame. And because of genetics, bullies usually would be boys. (Remember Calvin? For all intents and purposes, in my mind, Calvin was a bully). But that idea did not bear fruit. Young girls figure out the bully in the gang and often ensure they are taught a lesson. So it could not be that genetically stronger boys bully girls in school which make girls change their behaviour.
There had to be something else.
So I started reading up on psychology. Some patterns emerged. Societal stereotypes often make kids choose their calling. The colours pink and blue are a classic example. There are no pink shorts for boys and only the rare blue frock for girls when you go shopping. The balloons in the birthday party are always gender coloured. As a result, we start conditioning kids at an early age. Some of it also is genetic. One of them is the natural caregiver, the other is ‘supposed to be’ the gatherer. Therefore there are careers where one would be suited perfectly based on gender. But then, that’s a generalization. And more importantly, generations of conditioning allows the caregiver to be the provider but rarely vice-versa.
Yesterday I found perhaps one of the most plausible explanations for this change. Puberty. And it fits my own observations for the past 8 years. Stereotypes come into play even more than they ever did and slowly kids who never thought that they were any different than boys, begin to act differently.
Watch the video, it’s really interesting.
And remember to tell your daughters, nieces, any kid you might know that’s it’s awesome to be #LikeaGirl