Women in a pre-college team-building program

Presented by wellesley's pre-college summer program

As a female teen, have you ever been told you’re being “too bossy?”  

We know that men earn more than women in their careers -- but men also move up the ladder more quickly than women. In a September 2019 studyWe find that women consistently attribute negative feedback to low ability, regardless of their actual ability,” resulting in women internalizing the negative feedback (“I can’t”), while men externally attribute it (“It’s just bad luck”). 

What does this mean? Gender gaps in competitiveness and performance are intensified.

Melissa Stone sat down with Wellesley College’s Professor of Economics, Olga Shurchkov for her advice on how to invest in yourself earlier. Why wait until you’re in college or about to start your first job? Hone your skills while you’re in high school. 

Have you ever been told "don't be bossy"?

Yes! From a young age, women are conditioned to argue less, take a back seat, and stick to the safe option. Instead, I say own your assertiveness and be bold.

Why is it important to enhance your communication/writing, negotiation, and problem-solving skills before your first job?

Communication, writing, and problem-solving abilities are universal. They’re necessary no matter if you work in high-tech, high fashion, or any industry in between. These skills can’t be learned quickly. It’s important to start early and develop them over time through practice and trial-and-error.

Why establish your network as a teenager?

Because there needs to be a women’s counterpart to the “boy’s club.” 

What do you mean by a "boys club"?

Male-stereotyped professions, like financial services, surgery, and software engineering, are rewarded with high pay. On the other hand, female-stereotyped professions, like social work and teaching, are grossly underpaid. It also turns out that, even when women and men enter the workplace on the same footing, men rise to higher levels of management, while women do not. These are alarming trends.

What is the value of a summer pre-college program like Wellesley College’s? 

A pre-college program offers an opportunity to develop concrete skills that are essential to college success: communication, public speaking, team-building, and developing relationships. More importantly, it brings like-minded, talented students together who will forever have this network—built through a unique, shared experience.

What are the benefits of an all-female community?

In high school, female gender stereotypes dictate certain unspoken rules of conduct in co-ed classrooms: Don’t disagree; Don’t stick out; Don’t be “bossy”—especially in subjects that are “not for girls” (i.e., STEM courses). 

This mentality follows them into college, where even more assertive men dominate the classroom. All-female classrooms allow for these stereotypes to start to go into the background. Students start to operate not as “girls” but simply as “students.” 

What advice do you have for young women in high school?

I suggest setting a goal and being confident. Own your power, develop your female network early on, and invest in YOU. If you’re bossy, be bossy.

This article is sponsored by Wellesley College Summer Programs. To learn more about this exciting and empowering opportunity, visit: summer.wellesley.edu.