“Brave” Versus “Perfect”

Published on 4 May 2016 . 4 min read

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“We’re raising our girls to be perfect, and we’re raising our boys to be brave.”

This is followed by most of the people across the world. Girls should be perfect, smile, play pretty and avoid risks and failures. While on the other hand, boys are taught to be brave, strong, crawl on the bars, rough it out and swing high. By the time these boys grow up and ask these pretty perfect girls out for a date they adapt to taking risks and risks and more risks. Thus it is so true that we raise perfect girls and brave boys.

Reshma Saujani, founder of Girls Who Code, wants to change this attitude about girls being perfect and boys being brave. Some years ago she did something “brave” or rather stupid as quoted by her. She stood for Congress. Earlier she had been in politics but was always in the backstage as an organizer and a fundraiser. By coming in the forefront she wanted to disrupt the status quo. When she ran for the polls her pollster said that there was no way she could win. She swore to herself that she will win, so she got herself endorsed, raised money from everyone possible. On the day of the polls she only got 19% of the votes but what she achieved was that in her entire life she did something brave and she did not have to worry about being perfect. This was an eye opening experience.

Not only did she run for Congress, in 2012, Reshma, started her company, Girls Who Code. What she found was that by teaching them coding she was actually teaching them to be brave. Coding is a work of trial and error and the right command has to be in the right place. At times a semicolon instead of a comma is the right command leading to success. Coding takes a lot of time and many tries until that perfect permutation combination code strikes. Coding can get the imperfection out of you and also leads you to take more risks.

During her program, girls fail and fear that they are not perfect. In the first few classes the girls call their teacher to ask for the perfect and the correct code. If the teacher sees that the girl has tried but did not get it right, then instead of showing the progress to her they ask them to try until they get it right. Girls are very good at coding and it is just a matter of time when they get the code right without thinking that they are perfect at it. Lev Brie, a Professor at Columbia University, teaches Java to computer science students, says that when the boy gets stuck in coding their perspective is quite different to that of girls. Guys usually say that something is wrong with their code while the girls say that there is something wrong with them.

Actress Lisa Ray, known for movies like Bollywood/Hollywood wrote on her Twitter page, “Teach girls bravery, not perfection. Let’s make a world in which they write their own script rather than follow anyone else’s”. Lisa Ray is strong and brave and we all know it for the fact that she fought her battle against cancer and won it.

Dr. Dehra Glueck, psychiatrist at St. Louis Children's Hospital, advises his parents to teach their daughters to be brave rather than perfect. According to her brave daughters are trained to take risks and not just be perfect. She gives a lot of emphasis on talking to daughters regarding being why perfect does not work all the time and if they are trying to be perfect they might not learn and this is what has to be changed; though it comes with lot of failures, but then these do help.

Reshma Saujani, says ” I need each of you to tell every young woman you know?—?your sister, your niece, your employee, your colleague?—?to be comfortable with imperfection.” This is because when girls are taught to be imperfect, we teach them to grasp that it is okay to be imperfect leads to a class of girls who are brave, build a better world for themselves and for others.

Watch Reshma Saujani's TED Talk here:


By Shubhra Rastogi

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SHEROES - lives and stories of women we are and we want to be. Connecting the dots. Moving the needle. Also world's largest community of women, based out of India. Meet us at www.sheroes.in @SHEROESIndia facebook.com/SHEROESIndia

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