We have helpful campaigns to promote strong young women that make national headlines, toys designed to get girls interested in science and math that receive popular acclaim, and the study of women’s rights but still an alarming trend happen where the adolescence kicks in and girls are “lost for words.”
It’s a phenomenon called “losing their voice,” where even the most audacious girls are likely to become more cautious about speaking out and less likely to assert themselves.
Deborah Cihonski, a Chicago-based psychologist, said she was shocked at how much effort it took the girls in her study to decide when to speak up when they felt they had something important to say. They weighed everything from potential embarrassment to backlash before deciding to open their mouths. Often, they chose not to. What’s even more troubling is some of these young women continue to struggle with speaking up and asserting themselves later in life.
“Rather than speaking being their default, not speaking becomes the default and to speak up when it’s important is something that’s effortful for them,” Cihonski says.
Girls lose their voice for a variety of reasons—it’s mostly because of their self-esteem and is culture-based, says Martha Mendez-Baldwin, a psychologist who specializes in child and adolescent behavior, and an assistant professor of psychology at Manhattan College. Navigating the world between being children and women leave them unsure of how to act. When that uncertainty is met, combined with the pressure to fit in with peers and high expectations of parents, girls are often reluctant to assert themselves, she says….
5 Key points to keep our young women confident: