As girls are growing up, their parents and culture teach them how to be. Most girls get the message that they’re supposed to be and act in certain ways. Many of these messages encourage girls to be “less than.” In many ways, girls are taught to have low self-esteem as part of their personality.

Which of These Do You Remember Hearing?

• Don’t be too smart or boys won’t like you.

• Don’t get your dress dirty! It’s better to sit in that chair like a good little girl.

• You need to be well-mannered.

• Don’t speak up because you might hurt other people’s feelings.

• You’re supposed to take care of your family before taking care of yourself.

• Don’t explore doing something new – it could be dangerous!

• You’re such a sweet girl, so be nice to everyone.

• Don’t make waves – you don’t want to rock the boat.

• Here, let me help you with that.

• If you’re good in math, you’re too much like a boy.

• You’re never as good as your brother.

• Don’t be confrontational! You’re being too aggressive! Accept what happens and make the best of it.

• Your brother can stay out later than you and doesn’t have to call in when he’s out, but you do.

Girls Are Taught Helplessness

In addition, girls are more often taught behaviors that encourage helplessness. On the personal level, girls learn that they need protection because they’re so vulnerable. They are required to call home and check in when they’re out on a date more often than boys do. Their father has to talk to the boy first before he can take her out, but no one talks to the girls before her brother can ask them out.

Many parents rescue their daughters in situations that they wouldn’t rescue their sons from. Girls are comforted more often when things don’t work out and helped to do things that they could do on their own.

Girls are Rewarded for Being Quiet

Girls are rewarded by teachers with higher grades when they sit still and are quiet, if they’re not too noisy and rambunctious like the boys. They are also rewarded with higher grades if they follow the classroom rules and are cooperative. The funny thing is, while girls get better grades, boys score higher on standardized tests. Evidently, girls are rewarded for good behavior rather than being competitive and mastering difficult subjects.

Boys in junior high school and high school call each other names by saying someone is like a girl. If a boy appears feminine in any way, he’s denigrated by the other boys. Girls learn that to be a female means she is trivialized and devalued. They learn they’re generally judged by boys only upon their appearance and not on their inner qualities or intelligence. Competence and intelligence can actually be a hindrance to receiving the boys’ approval.

The Expectations of a Woman

When she’s an adult, a woman realizes that she’s expected to have three jobs: work outside the home, take care of the children, and clean the house. If she has a job with power, she better not cry in front of anyone! And if she takes more days off to take care her sick child, she may have to give up that promotion.

All of these work together so that the self-confidence of women is much less than men’s. Both on the personal and cultural levels, women grow up learning that they’re not as worthy as men, that feminine traits can be ridiculed and scorned, and that they’re not as capable as men in accomplishing things. This is emphasized further by not getting paid the same as men who are doing the same job, even if they’re doing a better job.

These core beliefs need to be recognized and challenged at every turn. You are a strong, capable and resilient person, and you need to be aware that these core beliefs that you received from your family and society at large when you were a girl do not reflect your value as a person.

You can be that confident, assertive person in your personal life and in the workplace. You deserve to be listened to and respected.

Author's Bio: 

Vivian Harte is the co-author of Self-Esteem for Dummies in the Dummies series. She has helped over 12,000 people learn and use assertiveness skills during the last 14 years. She teaches online classes on assertiveness, self-confidence, and teamwork. She has a Bachelors degree in Sociology and a Masters degree in Public Administration. She taught college classes for many years in Tucson, Arizona. She has two grown children who are both successful. She lives in Tucson with her husband, three dogs and two cats.

She offers three online courses and 1-on-1 coaching, and you can find out more about these at her website, self-esteem-for-me.com. Discover how to change your thoughts into positive and uplifting self-talk in her online course Transform Your Self-Talk to Stay Positive.