Friday, September 27, 2013

Females lose self-confidence throughout college. From USA Today.

Why the fuck am I here?
According to a study conducted last April, female seniors studying at Boston College left the university with lower self-confidence than when they entered as freshmen.

The study, administered by the Office of Institutional Research, Planning and Assessment at Boston College, examined two surveys: the first of which was taken by students during their freshman year, and the second of which was taken by students exiting their senior year.

Despite reports of high academic achievement, most female students gave themselves weaker self-evaluations in the second survey.

Abbey Clark, a senior and founder of the Boston College chapter of I AM THAT GIRL, a female-empowerment community, says the finding is "startling."

The rest of the misery.


  1. (facepalm) What happened is that the women scored lower on a survey. Maybe, just maybe, what has happened is that women realized that they were OVERCONFIDENT when they came in, and it takes males longer to realize that?

  2. I read the whole study and those concerns are addressed, or am I crazy?

  3. I had the same thought as Harriet. Maybe women's confidence becomes more appropriate based on their actual abilities. It's no surprise that self-esteem is sky-high after high school so lowering that to a manageable, realistic level is healthy.

    The article doesn't say whether their research office surveyed men at all. Maybe the male students lowered their self esteem too.

  4. Indeed, maybe it's the Dunning-Kruger effect at work.

  5. I, too, suspect that coming out of college with a bit less confidence might actually be a sign of useful progress. Of course, if males don't make similar progress, and given the tendency of both male students and their potential employers to act on the students' beliefs about their own abilities, justified or not, some additional adjustments are probably in order. We could work on diminishing male college graduates' unjustified self-confidence, or (my preference) we could make a fresh start from pre-K on and focus on helping all students develop a realistic sense of their strengths and weaknesses, and of the roles that innate ability and/vs. hard work play in their successes (and failures).

    1. I find this issue really fascinating. Self confidence prompts a person to try things that are above their natural abilities. As long as the attempted goal is just a little above the person's actual abilities, people give credit for trying and sometimes, with luck, the person actually achieves the goal. Women may have a more realistic view of their abilities but in practice, that knowledge can hurt them. People see them as timid rather than possessing an accurate view of their talents.

  6. It's not really all that interesting to consider drops in self-esteem pre to post college unless we know how scores change for ALL females - in and out of college. If self-esteem drops more for females in college than for females out of college, then we can start talking about how they might have learned to be more realistic, or have been subject to something that truly negatively affected their self-esteem.

    And what if ALL females' self-esteem drops over the same age range, and males' self-esteem does not? Doesn't that support the idea that it's something specific to sex but not to academic experience?

    What it it drops for all individuals, male and female, in and out of college? Then maybe we can say it's developmental, based on life experience, or that the questionnaire is more sensitive during one period than another.

    Etc. etc.

    Grumble grumble. Out of context, sensationalized data drives me nuts.

  7. It almost makes me question the scientific bona fides of university press releases.


Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.