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Hyper-conscientious and over-prepared: do the same traits that make girls good at school undermine them at work?




High school students walk toward the gates of the L.A. Unified School District's Roybal Learning Center on Tues., Aug. 14, 2018.
High school students walk toward the gates of the L.A. Unified School District's Roybal Learning Center on Tues., Aug. 14, 2018.
Kyle Stokes/KPCC

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It’s been well-reported that girls outperform boys when it comes to grades, but why doesn’t that academic rigor seem to correlate with success in the workplace?

In her recent Op-ed in the New York Times “Why Girls Beat Boys at School and Lose to Them at the Office,” psychologist Lisa Damour argues that the same traits that make girls accomplished in school may be holding them back in the workforce.

Hyper-conscientious girls, she argues, often only feel confident in themselves when they’ve done the maximal amount of preparation. In contrast, boys often succeed while putting in minimal work -- an experience that develops their confidence and plays well in the office.

Damour says parents and teachers should ease up on praising overwork and instead prioritize efficiency. And she doesn’t claim that lack of confidence is the only thing keeping girls from breaking the glass ceiling, but she does think it’s a factor. Does your personal experience jive with Damour’s theory?

Is the problem school and parenting, or the kinds of traits that are valued in the office? If you were a hyper-conscientious student, did you have trouble transitioning into the workforce? If you’re the parent of a girl, have you observed these tendencies?

Guest: 

Lisa Damour, psychologist in Shaker Heights, Ohio and author of the recent New York Times Op-ed “Why Girls Beat Boys at School and Lose to Them at the Office;” her new book, released this week, is “Under Pressure: Confronting the Epidemic of Stress and Anxiety in Girls” (2019, Ballantine Books)



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