For women the negative consequences were feeling

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For women, the negative consequences were feeling unfeminine and experiencing social rejection. In order to have a fear of success, the individual must also believe achievement is possible. To summarize, there are two requirements for a fear of success: 1. The person must perceive achievement as possible, if not likely 2. The person must associate achievement with negative consequences. A fear of success is not the same as a desire to fail. The fear of success was associated with distinct negative consequences with achievement. For women, the major negative consequence was social rejection; for men, the major negative consequence was self-absorption. Both led to unhappiness. Early adolescent girls, in particular, may still associate success with some negative consequences. Girls felt achievement and affiliation were opposites that one could not do both. She referred to this as the “smart vs. social” dilemma. The girls feared that achievement would jeopardize their relationships. Girls also identified a second dilemma, “silence vs. bragging.” The girls said they often hide their success because talking about it is like bragging and might make other people feel bad. One facet of the historical literature on women’s fear of success is that high-achievement women switch from traditionally masculine pursuits to traditionally feminine ones. There are several reasons for the switch. The authors suggested that men in STEM fields tend to have more traditional gender attitudes, which may create a less friendly work environment for women. It is interesting that much of the departure occurred among women in STEM jobs with advanced degrees, something one would expect to be protective against departure from the field. Some research has suggested that women leave STEM careers because of a desire for greater job flexibility, conflict between work and family, self-confidence and lack of female role models. Self-Confidence Despite the fact that girls do better than boys in school, girls often estimate their abilities as lower than boys and are more worried than boys about their grades in school (with the exception of language). Interestingly, women will defend other women’s abilities but not necessarily their own – the “we can but I can’t” paradox. Less likely to expect success. When we expect not to succeed in a domain, we will give up more easily on a given task, choose an easier task and pursue activities in other domains. Nature of Task Women are not less self-confident than men on all tasks. The nature of the task is an important determinant of sex differences in self-confidence. Women are less self-confident than men about their performance on masculine tasks, such as STEM domains, despite equal performance.

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