The student news site of Francis W. Parker School

The Parker Weekly

The student news site of Francis W. Parker School

The Parker Weekly

The student news site of Francis W. Parker School

The Parker Weekly

Role Models: Who Inspires You?

A research study on who inspires boys vs girls
Photo credit: The Parker Weekly

“You’re pretty good for a girl!” is a phrase I know all too well.

In elementary school, when a girl would win the “multiplication master” contest, it was because the boys were tired that day.

In middle school, the girls always beat the boys in sprints. Oh, but that’s because the boys weren’t trying.

In high school, when a girl beats a boy in a tennis match, of course, it doesn’t count.

Throughout my life, as I faced these belittling comments and actions, I never responded with anger or frustration. Instead, I nurtured a growing sense of curiosity.

What sparked this male mindset, and how does society fuel it? I knew I had to quantify it with research. Targeting 14-18-year-old girls and boys, participants were asked to name three people who inspire them, three women who inspire them, and a person of the opposite gender (that they know personally) who is better than they are at something.

With 100 responses (50 boys and 50 girls), many of whom came from Parker, the results were even more extreme than I had hypothesized. 

Startlingly, only 20% of boys named a woman who inspires them, in stark contrast to 50% of girls who listed at least one male figure as a source of inspiration. When specifically asked to name three people of the opposite gender who inspire them, 25% of boys said no women inspired them, while 100% of girls named three. 

Arguably the most concerning, one in three boys were unable to name a girl they know who is better than they are  at something. This is compared to 90% of girls who could name a boy.

I’m not sharing this research to make boys feel bad or ashamed. My intent is to foster curiosity, introspection, and a willingness to reconsider preconceived notions.

These findings are understandable as in our society, the majority of billionaires, presidents, CEOs, actors, and sports figures tend to be men. However, if we want to achieve gender equality as a society, we need to recognize the female change-makers and inspirational figures. One hundred percent of girls can, but it is now up to the boys to recognize and acknowledge inspiring women in the world.

We live in a time where awareness of gender biases and their consequences is growing. Boys may feel pressure to conform to traditional male gender roles, which can lead to a narrow definition of success and inspiration. On the other hand, due to societal norms and expectations, girls may be exposed to male success at higher rates than that of men thus giving them a broader definition of success and inspiration.

As long as we can be aware of these disparities and their underlying causes, we have the opportunity to reshape our societal narrative and promote a more inclusive and equitable future.

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About the Contributor
Riya Jain
Riya Jain, News Editor
Riya Jain is a senior entering her fourth year with “The Weekly” as News Editor. When she's not watching the news, reading the news, or writing about news events, catch her editing news articles! Riya also participates in tons of social justice initiatives, including her own startup, and is on three Parker varsity sports. She looks forward to writing more journalism for the Parker community!