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This Is What Bravery Looks Like

This Is What Bravery Looks Like

You may have heard us at Ellevest puzzle through the research that tells us that girls are given different messages than boys are about money: Girls are taught to save, and boys are taught to build wealth.

There is a parallel with the work that Girls Who Code founder Reshma Saujani has done.

Her TED-talk-turned-book “Brave, Not Perfect” notes that girls are taught to be perfect, while boys are taught to be brave. I have heard her use the example of parents on a playground applauding their sons for making it to the top of the monkey bars, while warning their daughters that they’ll get their dress dirty.

Just as the lessons we learn about money affect us in adulthood, so too do the lessons about bravery; one result is that women tend to be more embarrassed to fail than men are. This can be limiting for us.

Last week, Reshma flexed her own bravery muscles by publicly responding to “60 Minutes” for a segment they did on bringing more girls into coding. Both Girls Who Code and littleBits, Ayah Bdeir’s STEM-learning toy company, were interviewed for the piece and shared their research with the producers. But when it aired, these two women and their organizations had been written out, with Hadi Partovi from playing the role of solver-of-problems, leader-of-the-movement, savior-of-girls.

Most of us would have been disappointed, regretted the time wasted with the TV show, and let it pass.

But Reshma, citing #bravenotperfect, called out “60 Minutes” for erasing Girls Who Code from the segment. She argued that, while Hadi was doing good work, “60 Minutes” was ignoring the contribution of women, erasing them from the picture, and portraying the man as the savior of women; in this way, they are perpetuating the problem.

A follow-up by Quartz noted that “we are culturally conditioned to consider men authoritative … even when it comes to discussing issues that only women experience, it seems” and that “sexism persists even as we claim to be fighting it, and women’s voices are ignored even when they are the center of the story.”

Interestingly, one might have thought that “60 Minutes” would have been acutely aware of whose voices they were sharing, given that this was a segment about including girls … and given that “60 Minutes” producer Jeff Fager, CBS CEO Les Moonves, and executive producer / star Charlie Rose were all brought down by the #MeToo movement.

In speaking out, Reshma demonstrated why being “brave” can be a bit lonely. I was at a dinner last week with a group of group of self-described feminists when the topic of her calling out of “60 Minutes” came up — and it was controversial. After all, some argued, Hadi isdoing great work, and “60 Minutes” personifies great journalism. And her anger and her looking for recognition for Girls Who Code felt just a bit … you know … unseemly.

But, of course, this is sort of the whole point.

No one gets criticized or second-guessed if they don’t speak up for themself. And maybe you agree or you don’t agree with Reshma’s point of view. But you certainly have to give her points for bravery … and for teaching those girls not only how to code but also how to advocate for themselves.

Read more here.

Note: Ellevest donates the proceeds I would have otherwise earned when Ellevest invests in the Pax Ellevate Global Women’s Leadership Fund to Girls Who Code.


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