The Board Room Discussion July 19, 2014
Parents Continue to Encourage Our Girls
As I read the many articles regarding the millions of reasons women are under represented in the board room and STEM careers, I realize that creating Chess Girls DC is one of the most important things I can do for our community. There are several negative points that the articles discuss that disappear when girls learn to play Chess.
In reading and article written by Jennifer Welsh for the Business Insider,
the article discussed “Teasing in School” as a factor.
At the high school level, teachers and class mates sometimes stereotype girls who are interested in advanced physics and math. Teasing in school or being the only girl in advance classes may be uncomfortable and pushes most girls out. This speaks directly to “Self Esteem”. Competing in Chess is powerful, especially against boys. It builds self esteem.
Lack of Encouragement was also mentioned. Chess Girls DC was created to give the right support and encouragement to girls who play Chess. When given the right support, girls and women do just as well or better than men. It is not an inherent ability difference between the sexes.
Competition was also a factor. Women are generally less competitive and aggressive than men. This could impact their desires to follow through with a career in the sciences at the academic level or in the board room in corporate America. Although the push to constantly compete can wear on someone whose personality is not naturally inclined to be aggressive, Chess builds those mental muscles. Playing Chess especially as a rated player in K-12 Scholastic tournaments simulates the mental toughness needed in the competitiveness of the science careers or the corporate board room.
The most powerful determinant of whether a girl goes on in science or business might be whether anyone encourages her to go on.
In elementary school, girls and boys perform equally well in math and science. But by the time they reach high school, when those subjects begin to seem more difficult to students of both sexes, the numbers diverge. Although the percentage of girls among all students taking high-school physics rose to 47 percent in 1997 from about 39 percent in 1987, that figure has remained constant into the new millennium. The statistics tend to be a bit more encouraging in AP calculus, but they are far worse in computer science. Maybe boys care more about physics and computer science than girls do. But an equally plausible explanation is that boys are encouraged to tough out difficult courses in unpopular subjects, while girls, no matter how smart, receive fewer arguments from their parents, teachers or guidance counselors if they drop a physics class or shrug off an AP exam.
Both of the articles made compelling arguments. To read more in depth I have included the links above.