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

3.9 out of 5 stars 49 customer reviews

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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.
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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: 5.2 x 0.8 x 8.1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 10.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (49 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #54,686 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

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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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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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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Format: Paperback
It's heartbreaking to read this book and realise that things haven't much changed in the decade since it's been published, and how too many young women in America act, think, and believe, not because it's their integral nature but rather because they've been pushed to it by messages from the media, Hollywood, teachers, parents, male classmates. The girls Ms. Orenstein interviewed are all around my age (I was also in seventh grade during the 1992-93 schoolyear), so it was easy to relate to them and what they were going through, what things were like when they were in junior high and sixth grade. The girls at Weston, the largely white school, had problems with teachers calling on boys who hogged and demanded attention, to the exclusion of girls in the class, body image, sexual harassment, teachers who had a double standard when it came to boys and girls (boys who call out answers before being called on or who loudly whine to be called on are rewarded with attention, while girls are ridiculed if they have a wrong answer or not called on at all; there was also the teacher who called a boy disruptive, with a friendly laugh, while making the same remark to a female student in a very cold negative disparaging voice), parents who reinforce this double standard, the sexual double standard, and messages that you have to fit in and be perfect. These girls even pretended to be afraid of spiders so that boys would think they were feminine and desirable as girlfriends, not pariahs who wouldn't run screaming from a spider but instead act like a boy and ask to hold it because it looks so neat. It's sad to read that in this day and age many young women think that a woman isn't allowed to be assertive, pushy, or aggressive, or that a girl can't be a lawyer because she's too "cute.Read more ›
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