Being afraid of standing out, being opinionated and being seen as difficult, starts young. I can tell you that from experience.
One 10-year-old girl named Alice Paul Tapper wrote about this very phenomenon in a personal essay over at The New York Times. Alice had noticed how boys were quick to raise their hands and give answers, while the girls often stood quietly in the back. She mused as to why:
I told my mom that I thought girls weren’t raising their hands because they were afraid that the answer was going to be wrong and that they would be embarrassed. I also think they were being quiet because the boys already had the teacher’s attention, and they worried they might not be able to get it. My mom and I decided that we should take the experience to my Girl Scout troop.
Alice decided to talk her troop about it, where they all decided to create “a Girl Scout patch that would encourage girls to raise their hands in class and be more confident about using our voices. ” It’s called the Raise Your Hand patch. Girl Scouts Nation’s Capital is now making the patch, meaning the girls across the country will be able to earn one.
Alice’s confidence, intelligence, and desire to help other girls is not only precocious but also inspirational. As Alice said, “for women to be equal to men, we have to fight for it.”