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Schoolgirls: Young Women, Self Esteem, and the Confidence Gap Paperback – September 1, 1995


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 368 pages
  • Publisher: Anchor; Anchor Books ed edition (September 1, 1995)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0385425767
  • ISBN-13: 978-0385425766
  • Product Dimensions: 7.9 x 5.1 x 0.9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 10.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (42 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #278,347 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Following a 1990 poll which found that girls suffer plummeting self-esteem and reduced expectations as they enter adolescence, journalist Orenstein visited two California middle schools to take a more personal look at the statistics.
Copyright 1995 Reed Business Information, Inc.

From Library Journal

Troubled by the 1990 American Association of University Women report on the loss of self-esteem by American girls between the ages of nine and 15, journalist Orenstein sought the human stories behind the statistics. She worked for a year with girls from two California schools, interviewing students, their families, teachers, and the administrators of the two schools. She also observed classes, school ground behavior, and home life. Not aiming for an academic study, Orenstein places information from various studies in footnotes to the children's narratives. Her text focuses instead on situations ranging from subtle but definite discouragement of female students to a blatant devaluing of all students. Although there were other factors involved, she concentrates on the stories from school in describing the wrenching and all-too-typical conditions many girls face. Recommended for public libraries, high school libraries, and academic libraries with women's studies or education collections.
Sharon Firestone, Ross-Blakley Law Lib., Arizona State Univ., Tempe
Copyright 1994 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

More About the Author

Peggy Orenstein is the author of the New York Times bestseller Waiting for Daisy: A Tale of Two Continents, Three Religions, Five Infertility Doctors, an Oscar, an Atomic Bomb, a Romantic Night, and One Woman's Quest to Become a Mother and Schoolgirls: Young Women, Self-Esteem, and the Confidence Gap. A contributing writer to the New York Times Magazine, she has been published in, among others, USA Today; Vogue; Parenting; O, The Oprah Magazine; Salon; and The New Yorker. Orenstein lives in Northern California with her husband and their daughter, Daisy.

Customer Reviews

3.9 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

34 of 37 people found the following review helpful By Jed Davis on July 14, 2000
Format: Paperback
To read Peggy Orenstein's SchoolGirls is to take a journey into a world 1) that any man with a conscience is ashamed to remember ( because of the way boys treated girls ) and 2) that for high school girls and women to remember, is to recall the pain of being punished, physically abused, humiliated and emotionally beaten down for simply being born female. But before going into the book in depth, one important point must be made: While Orenstein's portrayal of girls and boys is accurate, it should not be taken as a message that all middle school girls are good but get shortchanged, or that all boys engage in destructive behavior when it comes to girls. There are wonderful adolescent boys and nightmarish middle school girls. And some girls do have a very positive experience. Unfortunately, Orenstein's portrayal is the norm and it is accurate. What Orenstein did was to go into two vastly different schools, one in a solidly white middle class community and the other located in an urban black and Hispanic neighborhood. Both schools were located in Northern California. She observed and interviewed the girls ( as she gained their trust ) for an academic school year to see what they were experiencing with regard to their academic, home and social lives. Although the cultural environments were vastly different, the dynamics of both groups' experiences turned out to be strikingly similar in many respects. I remember all too well what went on in junior high school in the 60s.Read more ›
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20 of 23 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on November 29, 1999
Format: Paperback
I've read SchoolGirls several times and bought countless copies for friends. It's a fantastic read, one that in moments had me trembling, recalling some of my own experiences and feelings during those middle school years. I applaud Orenstein for undertaking a large-scale piece of writing and reporting. I disagree entirely with those who are calling for more on boys: good books are by necessity specific.
Because there's been a recent spate of books oriented toward boys' experiences at the same age, it seems both cheap and easy for new readers of SchoolGirls to question why boys aren't covered more thoroughly here. The book was written in response to a study whose results revealed startling statistics about girls. As a 32-year-old woman and a young mother, I find Orenstein's reporting and synthesis among the most powerful and helpful of tools given to me. I recommend this book heartily to those concerned about children of both genders.
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15 of 17 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on November 26, 1999
Format: Paperback
This is an expose of a "hidden curriculum" in our schools. It explores the effect it has on our children as schools help reinforce stereotypical gender roles, whether they intend to or not. The book is based on a study that suggests that as they reach adolescence, a girl's self-esteem drops and performance in school is compromised. Girls and boys adopt the traditional gender stereotypes with assertiveness being seen as masculine and restraint and compliance seen as feminine. Because Peggy Ornestein is not a trained adolescent psychologist, her conclusions may be suspect, but through anecdotal stories and interviews Ornestein adds a human dimension to survey data. She brings the problem to life and makes it difficult to ignore. Ornestein gives the reader reason to care about what happens to April and Lisa, two of the girls she profiles in the book. Pervasive gender inequity in teaching is one of many difficulties facing educators, students and families attempting to improve today's education system. The observations in this book can go a long way toward understanding the complexities of adolescence and toward improving the learning environment.
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7 of 9 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on November 18, 1999
Format: Paperback
This book is well-written and important for parents and teachers. Orenstein focus on girls at 2 middle schools. She does not attempt to claim that their experience speaks for all American schoolgirls, but rather to illuminate SOME of the problems that they face and to point out that there is much evidence to suggest that many other girls may face similiar obstacles in school. Orenstein does discuss and describe at length some pretty awful behavior on the part of schoolBOYS towards schoolgirls. In describing this behavior, she does not put forth the idea that school is easier for boys or that they are villians to the core. She is simply describing the behavior of specific boys at specific schools. Having been a schoolgirl myself, I can attest to the veracity of her report. School is not easy for any child. But it would be ridiculous to ignore some of the specific ways that boys treat girls just because we are afraid of maligning boys. If the shoe fits... Also, there are plenty of books out there that address the problems boys face in school. Two good ones are LOST BOYS and REAL BOYS. And I don't see reviews of those books that accuse them of "leaving out" girls! Why are we so adverse to talking about what is really happening to our girls in school?
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