Sociologist Shelley Correll has shown that beliefs about gender differences in ability have an important role to play in people’s perceptions of their own masculine abilities and, as you might expect, this affects their interest in careers that rely on such skills. Correll used the data from the 1988 National Educational Longitudinal Study, involving tens of thousands of high school students, to carefully compare students’ actual grades with their own assessments of their mathematical and verbal competence. She found that boys rated their math skills higher than their equal female counterparts. This was likely due to the culturally shared belief that males are better at math, because boys were selective in their self-embellishment: they didn’t inflate their verbal competence. These self-assessments proved to be an important factor in the students’ decision making about their careers. With actual ability (assessed by test scores), held equal, the higher a boy or girl rates his or her mathematical competence, the more likely it is that he or she will head down a path toward a career in science, math, or engineering. Correll concludes that “boys do not pursue mathematical activities at a higher rate because they are better at mathematics. They do so, at least partially, because they think they are better.
Delusions of Gender
Interesting. I know I am not exceptional at math (I find it difficult, don’t enjoy doing it, score mid-average or even below average on ACT/GRE, etc) but I didn’t let that stop me from pursuing a career in science - even if my poor math skills put me at a disadvantage.(via women-in-science)
Be kind to yourself. Stop telling yourself that whatever you are struggling with “should” be easy. If something is hard for you, it is hard for you. There are probably Reasons, though those may just be how you are wired. Acknowledge these things. When you finish something hard, be proud! Celebrate a little.
And really, just stop saying “should” to yourself about your thoughts and feelings in any context. You feel how you feel. The things in your head are the things in your head. You can’t change either directly through sheer force of will. You can only change what you do. Stop beating yourself up for who and what you are right now–it isn’t productive. Focus on moving forward.