Friday, December 6, 2013

I've Never Been a Gifted Female


I have never been a gifted girl so I cannot identify with the societal pressures of growing up as one. I am married to a gifted wife and the son of a gifted mother. As such, I have an outsider's perspective on the balance that they constantly try to strike among being an excellent mother and wife while striving to excel in their respective professions. One time I asked my wife if she felt more pressure to excel at one of those areas more than any other. She responded, "No, I feel the pressure to be excellent at all of them equally." That was one of the most powerful statements she has ever said to me.

Growing up, I often spoke with my mom about careers that were available to her when she was young. I remember her telling me that she was not allowed to be in the accounting club in high school (I thought to myself, who would want to be in the accounting club anyway...maybe they did you a favor - but I digress). She ultimately became a CPA and opened her own private practice - but not until I was in the middle school.

This module we will read and discuss gifted girls and underachievement. Take a moment to watch this short clip. Afterwards, share your feelings about the pressure you feel to 'do it all' and how you think that pressure is felt by today's young gifted females. Then describe three steps you can take in your school to create a 'Positive Female Program'.

72 comments:

  1. I honestly didn't feel pressured to "do it all" as a female until I got married, and that's when the modeling I had seen growing up with my mom began to conflict with my own personal circumstances. My mom was a stay-at-home mom, and my parents had very traditional gender roles. When I got married, I tried to do everything my mom did (which was EVERYTHING outside of being the breadwinner) while at the same time holding a full-time job. This left me completely exhausted and depressed. After some months and talking with older respected women, I learned that I had to give up control of a lot of things and let me husband share the burden with me. It has been much easier ever since (and many thanks to my husband for his humility and willingness to help). I still feel burdened at times, but knowing the support that I have as well as being able now to allow myself imperfection has helped a lot. I still can't imagine, though, having kids on top of all of this!

    I think today's young gifted females often still feel like they have something to prove. Being a girl is something to overcome; it is used as an insult when someone can't do something. In math and science, girls are still underrepresented, and if it is because of fear or a stereotype then that is a definite problem. I think the opportunities are a lot more open for females now and a lot of gifted females believe they can be anything they want, but of course this isn't true of everyone and some are still fighting stereotypes from parents, teachers, community members, or peers. I think females especially struggle with a HUGE pressure to fit in and a pressure to be physically appealing; this is indicative of our culture and something that really needs to be dealt with.

    As far as creating a Positive Female Program in my school, the first step I would take is to have positive female role models. Schools are at an advantage for female gifted learners in that most teachers are female, and these women teachers - should they demonstrate the characteristics of enthusiasm and desire for learning - can be great role models. Other female role models should be additionally brought into the classroom from many other fields/career paths, including those in the maths/sciences. This stems that idea in gifted female students that "I can do anything I want to."

    Another classroom motivator is creating a club just for girls. This could be a math club, science club, reading group, friendship group, service learning group, or so forth. The important thing is being a part of something where female students feel open to each other and are empowered. The same goes for students of any other culture - for example, in my middle school one teacher offers a "step" class like is present in African-American fraternities and sororities. I think that is an amazing platform for these students to celebrate who they are.

    Finally, something that was very important to me as a child was books. I noticed that the video mentioned having a lot of books available with strong female heroines. I think that this includes probably half of my classroom library! Again, having strong female role models is important, and seeing this in similar aged kids - whether fiction or nonfiction - is quite empowering.

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  2. I agree with Elizabeth. In my growing up years, I didn’t feel that much pressure more than other students. I did not feel the pressure to do it ALL until I got married...and now, especially, as a single mother with no fatherly support for my son, I DEFINITELY feel the pressure to do it all.

    Growing up in school, my priorities were good grades (straight A’s) and pleasing my parents (with good grades and respectful behavior). But I don’t feel these are pressures unusual for any child or adolescent with parents with high expectations. As I approached middle school, I did feel the desire to “fit in” with the popular girls, but it wasn’t an external pressure, it was an internal desire. I do think that girls want to fit in more than boys, however, and that can cause stress when we can’t seem to be apart of that crowd. I do recall being heart-broken at times when I would connect with someone in the “in” crowd only to be snubbed the next day by that person. In high school, my social life took a life of its own and I discovered my unique, independent self being accepted by another unique, independent group of friends. My main pressure continued to make good grades including math up to AP Calculus (my father was a PhD in science, so he had that desire for me). In the 80’s, life was good and I had supportive parents.

    The pressure to do it all began after marriage when my ex-husband expected me to take on the finances, the house chores, be there for him, be his secretary and editor, be the mother, handles the many moves we made, and keep my career on track. His mentality was that he would work (a lot!) and bring in the money, while I did everything else including work to bring in even more money to the household. (At one time, I was certified to teach in 4 different states at once due to us moving and the pressure to look and gain employment in each state we moved).

    Now that that phase is of the past, and I am a single mother, I have had the pressure to be the breadwinner, the mother, the father, the cook, the cleaner, the supportive and helpful mother, the child advocate, the life-longer learner in education, and be great at my job because I need the employment and career stability! It is a lot of pressure, but fortunately, I had a good childhood. I can look back knowing that was a good time in life.

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  3. Looking at my female students, I definitely see that most of them are taking on “motherly” roles already. Some of my girls come from broken homes where they are the “mom” to their siblings, as well as the cook. Some of my girls are learning to cook for the family already. Of course, all of them want to make great grades. One thing that has changed and added pressure, I think, is the pressure to be athletic as a female! Since females have become an icon for fitness and athleticism (think Olympics), I have noticed some of my girls are ashamed of not being athletic like their older siblings or friends. The ads are everywhere about obesity and how to get fit, that I feel more than ever, being overweight and/or non-athletic is a new pressure on girls more-so than when I grew up. I also see that in my rural area, the girls do have high expectations from their parents to be the “better generation” and continue on the path to being strong, independent women.

    What can I do in my school for females? I do think that setting up a club for girls would be an awesome idea. However, before the club began, the counselor should set up small group session for girls to openly express their pressure and gauge their individual issues. Monthly group counseling sessions would continue for females in need. The first step in beginning a “positive female club” would be to find various teachers in the various subject areas - science/math, social sciences, language arts, the arts – and begin a Type I enrichment program for each area, which would include career paths in each area. The main theme in all of them would include be to “find your strength” or “be the best you can be, no matter what anyone says”! This could occur first semester. Then by second semester, girls could narrow down their interests and join a particular club of interest and begin Type II activities in order to gain more in-depth understanding. As the program strengthens, groups could continue with Type III research and community service activities to reach out and inform others about the pressures and opportunities for females.

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  4. I have always felt a lot of pressure to do it all, and be good at it all! I remember in middle school being so upset because I was smart, musically talented, but not as good at sports as all of my other very athletic friends. I tried SO hard to be a volleyball star like all of my other friends, but it was really not my gift. I remember feeling alone and isolated from some of my closest friends because I wasn't good in that area, too. By high school, I think I had finally found my niche and a group of friends that had similar interests and talents as I, but there was still a lot of pressure (not from my parents, just the world in general) to be involved in as many clubs as possible, be a leader, be smart and make good grades, and excel in special talent areas. I remember feeling like it was constantly an emotional roller coaster and a balancing act to be good at everything. In many ways, I still carry some of that with me today, and my many perfectionistic tendencies only make this worse.

    I think similar to what Elizabeth said, girls in our society feel like being a girl is something they have to "overcome" and when girls are also gifted, they deal with the normal pressures of adolescent girls, as well as feeling like they must also be the smartest, have the most creative projects etc. As an adult, this begins to show itself in different ways-- around their homes and through the parenting of their children.

    At my school, some things I have done or could do to empower girls are:
    1- I sponsor a math & science club for girls called Girls Engaged in Math and Science (GEMS) (-http://alex.state.al.us/showpage.php?lnk=alexvilledircommentGEMSUdircommentgemsu). It is a program paid for by a grant for the state of Alabama to help promote STEM fields for girls. This is something I have been involved with for three years now and it continues to grow at our school. This year, we have a fourth and fifth grade teams, but we are hoping to involve more grades in future years. This program gives our talented math & science girls an opportunity to explore topics of interest further and conduct research and experiment in their areas of interest and then present it for an authentic audience at a yearly expo. It is great fun!

    2- One thing that stuck out in the video for me was that gifted girls are often healthier than other students. One program another teacher and I have thought about is creating an after school running club that would allow girls (actually, we wanted to target this program for our underachieving African American females, but it would be great for ALL girls). We looked into Girls On The Run (http://www.girlsontherun.org/) which is an organization that empowers girls and teaches them responsibility and healthy habits of mind and body, while getting some exercise! I think this program would be a great way to encourage girls, especially underachievers, to get involved in something bigger than themselves. It may also give confidence and motivation to gifted girls, like me, who aren't athletically talented but want to feel a part of athletic activities.

    3- Lastly, I think I can do a better job of highlighting female role models throughout history and current women doing great things in my own classroom. Especially because I teach social studies, I can bring more awareness to all of my students about the contributions of women in our society, and this may help to inspire some of my girls (gifted or not).

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  5. I don't always remember feeling pressured to "do it all", not as a child, but that was because I was a ball of nerves and anxiety. My memories of being a young girl are almost entirely nonacademic. Academics was easy. I was never in a gifted program, I think my school had one but to be honest I'm not sure. School was easy, hardly ever a challenge and I rarely studied. My sister would spend hours pouring over textbooks to squeeze out a B or C and I rarely even brought home a textbook and made A's. I remember watching her and thinking I truly could not understand why you would ever have to try so hard. It was the social pressures of school, the attention to personal appearance, the flat out meanness of other girls (especially during middle school) and fussing over boys and social gatherings that I remember and there I can recall nothing but stress, pressure, anxiety and fear. When I look back at myself as a girl, especially through this lens of study, I wonder what I might have accomplished if I had not felt that pressure. It occupied a great deal of my time and kept me bound to small, safe decisions that kept my well within my comfort zone. The ironic thing is that for me, the areas of pressure were also the areas of weakness and focus. I felt no pressure academically so I didn't really bother with it and in turn spent much of my youth pondering and studying my weakness instead of honing the academic skills I did have. This leads me to wonder what would have been different if I HAD been academically challenged? What if I had been pushed to the point of needing to work and had not had so much time to stress over the other pressures? When you look at it that way, some pressure would have ben good. It is for this reason that I believe tending to the social and emotional needs or gifted girls is critical to their future success. Some of the statistics from the video, for example the one about girls surpassing boys in testing until about the age 14 and then declining, are probably connected to the focus shift from self to peers that occurs at that time. There is an unbelievable amount of social/emotional pressure on girls today with our cultural ideas of beauty, social media and increasing pressures to excel in many areas (and I do believe this expectation has increased) I can't even imagine how difficult it would be to be a teenage girl today. Perhaps simply providing them with adequate academic challenge could help them revise their focus and redefine their self concept.
    Aside from the social pressures I do feel that girls today are at somewhat of an advantage in that their expectations past high school are highly expanded and female professionals are more the norm that the exception. I think we should encourage girls to be all the things they ever hope or dream to be by giving them good examples of successful women who have done all kinds of things. We are studying women as entrepreneurs in my class right now and this has proved to be a fantastic and somewhat unexpected bonus to this topic of study. I did not realize there were so many successful female entrepreneurs nationally and locally. I believe it is because managing their own businesses allows many women to "do it all". It provides flexibility in terms of time and helps them manage families and work. I feel like teaching entrepreneurship is a fantastic approach to empowering girls.
    Lindsey Irvin

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  6. I have always been a very balanced student. I always made A's in school and never really had to try that hard. I would study but I can usually remember information pretty easily. I was also involved in band as a majorette and played on the softball team. I remember being stressed out at some times, but I would never really let that stress overwhelm me.

    I was tested for the gifted program in elementary school, but I didn't make it into the program. I believe it is because I am a good tester, but I do not "think outside the box". I remember thinking, "I am just as smart as the people in gifted!", and I was, but just in a different way. I made the same grades or sometimes better grades than them, but I realize that that competition with them probably influenced me to become a better student. I was also very competitive with my older sister and wanted to be better than her in everything.

    I believe that I feel the pressures to do it all and be good at it all more now that I am older and have a job. I am a high school teacher, but besides that I coach girls tennis after school and then being in graduate school on top of that is very challenging. I want to be the best teacher possible and that can be very overwhelming. I am the first person in my family to go to graduate school and I feel a lot of pressure to do well. I am thankful that I decided to go to graduate school before getting married and starting a family because I know that I would be a nervous wreck.

    I talked to some of the students that I have in my 11th grade class that are gifted females and I asked them about the pressures they feel to be the best. They said that there is a lot of competition in their grade. They feel like they have to make a 100 on everything to be considered smart. One girl stated that the competition leads to a lot of cheating. It is sad that these gifted females who are already so smart feel like they have to cheat to be the best. That is not the type of attitude I want to instill in my students or my future children. On page 199 in the chapter on Gifted Adolescent Females it talks about the pressures placed on gifted females resulting in self-destructive behaviors such as eating disorders, self-mutilation, depression, increased aggression, and other behavior problems. We have to make sure as teachers to encourage these gifted females, along with all females, to make good choices and not let the pressures of society change who they really want to be.

    One thing I could do to create a positive female program is create some type of club or organization where girls can meet to talk about their feelings and the pressures they feel in school and outside of school. If these girls realize that they are not on their own in the pressures they feel to succeed then maybe they will form a supportive bond to help each other. Castellano and Frazier (2010) states, “History reveals that same-sex friendships play and enormous role in the formation of self.”

    Another way I could help to form a positive female program is through my job as the girls’ tennis coach. I could create some type of activity to help the girls on the team balance school and sports. We could have one afternoon a week where we could help each other study and do homework. I could also invite the mothers to play on day. Having a mother/daughter tournament could help the girls’ relationships at home and encourage support in both school and athletics. Castellano and Frazier (2010) state, A girl’s identity is largely formed through the experiences she has with her mother, the behaviors she observes, and the overall quality of their relationship.”

    The last way I could help is by pointing out good women role models in history. As an 11th grade U.S. History teacher, we discuss several great female role models. March is women’s history month. I could do some sort of project where the students pick a famous woman in history and research her accomplishments and tie that in to today and have them include how they could become a famous woman in history also.

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  7. I think I have always felt the pressure to "do it all", but it was a pressure that I mainly put on myself. When I was in 4th grade, we moved schools and the girls that I identified with were the girls that were good at everything. I put a lot of pressure on myself to keep up with everything that they were doing. I took advanced classes, joined every club, honor societies and extracurricular activities. The only thing that I was not good at that they were was sports. In addition to doing it all, I needed to work part-time once I turned 16. I come from a very large family and my parents always made sure that the things I needed were provided, but I needed to work to start helping pay for some of the wants that come in high school. Working and balancing it all in high school was extremely hard, but I never really had to work hard to make good grades, so I made it work. College was where it got really hard for me. After never really having to work for good grades, college was a huge wake up call. I was working more and had to really learn how to study. Looking back, I wish that I would have had more preparation for the first few years of college. I have another friend that I grew up with, one of the "do it all girls", that had the same issue. She was our valedictorian, but didn't get accepted into the veterinary school of her choice. This is a huge shock to someone who never had to work hard to get what she wanted. I can see where this has translated into my adult life, even though I am learning to say no to signing up for some things. Currently, I am trying to balance yearbook committee, robotics club, science olympiad, a new job, school, wife and being 6 1/2 months pregnant. I know that it is pressure that I put on myself, but I also know I have to start stepping back from somethings. This has made me think of what I could do for the girls in my gifted classes. In the video the part about girls not being as good as boys at math and science hit me. We recently started some engineering challenges and you can tell that it intimidates the girls. They often want to sit back and let the boys take charge. I have looked into Engineer Girl, which is a group specifically for girls interested in engineering. I would also like to set up some mentoring experiences between the gifted girls at the high school and my girls. It would be great for them to hear from the older girls exactly what they can expect when they get to the high school. Hopefully, the relationship will last and they will have a college mentor when the time comes.

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  8. I do not remember having a gifted program in our school throughout elementary or high school. If we had one, I did not know about it. I don’t remember being pressured to do well by anyone other than myself. Since academics came fairly easily, I remember focusing on outside interests such as volleyball, basketball, softball, and track. I pushed myself and practiced every day to do and be the best. It didn’t come as easily as it did to some of my friends. I really had to work hard to get good. While they were home studying, I was still out practicing because I didn’t need to study. Outside pressures of middle school and high school were not about academics or sports. The pressures of social acceptance were almost unbearable to those who were outside the norm. You were made fun of for the slightest difference. You didn’t want to be too smart or too dumb. You wanted to be like everyone else and wear the same styles and brands. I remember the brand of shoe to wear was Dexter, and my mom bought a cheaper knock off brand. I thought it was the end of the world. I remember taking them off before arriving to school and slipping on my gym shoes. In my mind, it was better not to own those type shoes if you couldn’t own the real thing because of the ridicule you would have to endure.
    After sports were over, I took that drive to be the best in other aspects of my life. I had to be the best in my career. I would work night and day to excel if needed. Then I started college while I was working. Everything started becoming a huge balancing act. I had to have 100’s on everything or it just wasn’t good enough for me. I finally became a teacher. I still wanted to be the best at everything I did, and I must admit I went overboard for my students more times than not. However, once I had the privilege to become the mom of two wonderful babies, my priorities shifted, and it became hard to be the best everything. There came a point with my special needs son and my little prissy girl that I learn to let go of everything else. I still balance everything fairly well and strive for greatness, but nothing is as important as way those babies see me as their mom. So now, so what if I get a ‘B’. So what if lesson plans go in a day later. So what if I teach the same exact lesson as my neighboring teacher friend. I’m no less of a person. So what, if I’m not perfect. But I do realize that not everyone is like that. Some people just can’t get enough and sometimes they can’t let go and be.
    I look at my high school girls, and as I look at their ‘A’s’ in all of their advanced classes, all the activities they are involved in during and after school, and the social pressures of school, I wonder how they are balancing it all because it comes with a huge emotional price tag. When they talk to me, they talk with such confidence, but in some it is just a front. They feel the pressures of students, teachers, and parents to be the best in everything they do. I have had one high school student that has already spent several weeks in the psych ward due to a nervous breakdown at the hand of pressure. Is this really what being gifted is all about? Teachers, students, and parents have pressured this child into a breakdown because of grades. While some pressure is good, students have to understand that they are not perfect.
    Three things I feel like need to be implemented for the girls are affective education where internal and external pressures are addressed, mentor programs with successful females within their choice career field or area of interest, and a STEM program that is specifically designed for females and around the needs of females.

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  9. Many of the things discussed in the book that gifted girls do to fit in (i.e. masking their giftedness or not challenging themselves in order to have more friends) I didn’t really have problems with growing up. I was identified as gifted in elementary school and I was unconcerned with what my peers thought of me because I was aiming to please my mother and teachers.

    In middle school, I really found it more difficult to “fit in” because my friends and I were teased about being the smart kids. My friends (the other gifted kids) and I eventually just turned it around on those that bothered us by talking over their heads and excluding them in the same way they excluded us. (Hey, it wasn’t nice, but it was middle school!) In high school I did not really encounter inclusion issues because I went to a high school where all the students were either gifted or high achieving. If anything, being around my peers in high school pushed and motivated me to do better and be greater because we were in constant competition for that valedictorian spot.

    The pressure to do it all, however, started to creep in during high school because I was involved in 3-6 extra-curricular activities at any given time during my tenure. I was expected to do well at all of those as well as my regular studies. (I remember at one point having to write in 4 different ways for 4 different classes/activities within the same semester because none of them would accept the method of writing from another class/activity.) I guess it could be said that I was successful at everything, but most of the time, especially my junior and senior years, I felt overwhelmed and unable to let go of anything because I was expected to do everything.
    I let go of all that when I got to college, however, and refused to do anything outside of my course work. Now the compulsion to “do it all” is coming back because I am an example for my little sisters and I feel the pressure to live up to the life that has been expected of me both in my career and personally.

    If I had a classroom, I could help to start a mentoring program, a non-academic club, or a book/poetry club for gifted girls. The mentoring program would allow girls a chance to interact with successful women and see that there is a light at the end of the tunnel and a benefit to being gifted. (Because nerds run the world!) A non-academic club, such as the one Elizabeth described, would give students an opportunity to express themselves and their issues without the pressure to be great in that moment. A book club would center on not only reading the biographies of successful women, but the stories of the students themselves. It would serve as an outlet for them to express themselves through writing and connecting their lives and aspirations to some of their famous predecessors.

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  10. As a child growing up I never really felt the do it all pressure. I was always actively involved in school. I was a cheerleader and had a lot of friends. We were always on the go. I feel more pressured to do it all now as an adult. Being married, working full time and being in grad school I get stressed out and feel overwhelmed a lot. I want to teach to the best of my ability as well as being a good wife and doing well in grad school. I try to balance these out but it can get to be to much sometimes. I think gifted girls need a lot of support from their parents and teachers. School counselors should meet and talk to gifted girls on a regular basis. There should also be a mentor program in place where the gifted girls can be a mentor to someone. I think there should also be some type of program that is just for gifted girls, that would give them a time to be themselves and talk to other girls like them. They would not feel peer pressure and could express the way they feel. I think this is very important. So many times gifted students as they get older begin to down play their smartness just to fit in with their peers. Just like any other student gifted girls need attention from their teachers and parents too.

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  11. I have always put a lot of pressure on myself to be perfect especially in my school work. I did not just want to make all A’s but my A’s had to 100's. This obsession about my grades started in the fourth grade when I had a teacher tell me, “You will NEVER make straight A’s.” I remember those crushing words today almost 40 years later. For some that would have killed their spirit, but not mine. I used those words as a source of motivation for me. You see I might not be the “brightest” student, but I know how to study. I began studying all the time. Everything I did had to be perfect. If I made a mistake at the bottom of the page I would throw it away and start over. (Thank God for computers today!) I would stay up late every night making sure my work was just right. My teachers began to worry about me because of the pressure I was placing on myself. I can vividly remember my teachers making me leave my books at school so I couldn't study for my tests. This frustrated me. This pressure intensified as I progressed through school. My daughter has the same inner drive. I watched her place the same pressure on herself throughout her school years. I see these same tendencies in many of my gifted females. As I have gotten older, I see that this pressure “to be the best” was unhealthy. I am very anxious and nervous at times. I overreact to the simplest things. It can be overwhelming at times with all the responsibilities that females have today.
    In our system we separate the middle school gifted students by age and gender. I think this has been very effective because we are able to have very open conversions in the classroom. The girls talk to me about things that I know they would not bring up if we were in a mixed environment. However, sometimes I feel that I have not been adequately trained to help them in certain areas. I am finding that I need to include more lessons to address their affective needs. Secondly, I am chairman of the Distinguished Young Woman Program in our county. This program is a national scholarship program that provides high school girls the opportunity to showcase their accomplishments. “They emphasize the positive and stress the overall development of the individual by focusing on excellence in scholarship, perception, character and personality, creativity, physical fitness and dealing with others.” Now that I am teaching middle school gifted students, I want to encourage more of my gifted females to become involved in this program. Finally, I would like to provide a mentoring program for my gifted girls. I believe they need to have as much exposure to positive role models as they can. We have a lot of history in our city. Many local women played prominent roles in the Civil Rights Movement. These women are excellent examples of positive role models.

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  12. The Air Force is a crop of well-educated men and women. Many of my students have an active military mother and a stay-at-home dad or both parents are active military. I like seeing the girls being encouraged to do whatever it is they want to do. Most of the girls I see take part in various activities both inside and outside of school. They're in band (middle school) or general music (k-5) during the day, Junior Honour Society, robotics, the list goes on and on. The military is all about empowering men and women to do their very best and it shows in its children as well; they are products of military men and women.
    The base is always available for mentoring, homework help, speakers, etc. Every year we have a STEMposium and the girls (and boys) get to meet adults (women and men) who have science, math, or technology careers. The girls, in fact all the students, are held to a high standard and are encouraged and pushed to work their very best at home and at school and by all the people they meet.

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  13. I never really felt the pressures of fitting in growing up; however, I always felt the pressure to do well academically and creatively. You see, my cousin and I grew up together- we were born 3 months apart. Our mothers were born a year apart to the day (her mother, my aunt, was born on my mom's first birthday) and they were constantly competitive growing up. I believe this competition carried into our childhood. Our mother's were constantly bragging about who was doing what and when. My cousin was and still is extremely smart and creative; whereas I am more social and creative (I'm smart, but not near as smart as she is). She went through several phases through high school where she was trying to find her niche- she went from being a normal-unpopular girl to a gothic girl then a geeky girl and somehow even tried her hand at hanging out with Asians (she is redheaded and freckle-faced). I know she felt the social pressures of fitting in- that was apparent. But I never felt that. I felt the academic pressures. I didn't take as difficult classes as her and I didn't compete in science fairs and all of those "geeky" things because I was too busy hanging out with my friends- it was simply what I enjoyed.

    I guess I was lucky. My mom never pressured me to do all of those things like my aunt did to her but I did it to myself. I wanted my mom to be able to brag about my grades and such too. It was and continues to be a family competition between us. Who has the better job or now, who is going to get married first? It all seems silly, but the pressures of being perfect sometimes are present.

    I see it a lot in my school between siblings. I have one student in particular whose parents have questioned me several times about whether or not their child is dyslexic because he isn't reading as well as his sister was at his age. They always put a lot of pressure on her to do everything perfectly and now it is happening to her brother as well. I try to explain to them the differences in gender and the ways in which the human brain will "click" when it's ready. Unfortunately, they have yet to listen to me because it is obvious through my interactions with their son that the pressures are still very much alive.

    I would like to begin a gifted pull-out program at my school. Since we are a private school, these students get stuck in these classes that they are far too advanced for and there's nothing anybody can do about it. Doing so would allow them to interact with other gifted students and learn at their own paces. Realistically, it probably won't ever happen at my school, but it would be beneficial!

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  14. As a child, I attended a private school that placed a great deal of pressure on its students to excel academically, "spiritually", athletically, socially etc. So yes, I definitely felt the pressure to do it all and be the best at it all. I can remember asking my mother often, "What am I good at?" Everyone seemed to have a "thing" and I was never great at one thing in particular. I did well in school but I always struggled in math, I couldn't kick or throw a ball to save my life and I was not an exceptionally social child. I always felt the pressure to stand out and be GREAT at something. I was surrounded by a class of first-born and only children and the pressure was immeasurable at times. I know that when I left that environment, the pressure never truly left, but I certainly felt as though I could find my niche in college. Thankfully, I found my place in my education classes and truly fell in love with teaching. I hope that in my school that I relieve whatever pressures my girls may be feeling to be the best at it all.
    First, I would like to incorporate some type of mentor program in which women in the business community can mentor to my girls and encourage them to work and study hard. Secondly, I would like to create leadership opportunities for my girls to stand out and feel noticed at school either through student council, specific clubs or even service projects. Lastly, I think it is important to include strong women in the curriculum. I think that is should be a requirement for teachers to teach about women leaders throughout history to inspire young girls.

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  15. I do not believe that I felt pressure to do it all as a child. I did feel pressure to perform as well as I could in areas that were a struggle for me. I felt that I needed to show others that I cared by persevering though it was difficult. I felt as though if I did not struggle to show that I was doing my best that I would be labeled as lazy. I was encouraged to do my best, but was not scolded if I tried and did not make the best grade. I, like Danielle, struggled in Math . My parents supported me and encouraged me to do my absolute best. I believe doing my best, even though I knew it probably would not result in an A, has helped me to battle struggles as an adult . I can remember teachers supporting me by bringing me in for tutoring sessions in the summer and even one teacher let me attend her class for a second time every day during my study hall. I was determined to do my best in math because it was hard for me.

    As an adult , I feel pressure to not only do well at my full time job , but keep my home and family in tip top shape. I feel that women have a lot of things that we feel society expects us to do and if we do not then we feel as if we have failed. Young gifted females I am sure feel this same pressure to be the best girl they can be as well as compete with the stereotype that if a child is gifted they should be able to perform well academically without struggles.

    First, I would like to implement some time within my gifted classes that is devoted specifically to the girls. I would like this to be a time of discussion about goals, difficulties, aspirations, and to discuss women that have succeeded in their lives. Second, I would like to arrange for my female students to be able to interview or shadow a female adult that has had success in the career path that the student wants to explore. Third and final, I would like to have my girls make a success journal and encourage them to add their struggles and successes throughout high school and possibly for the rest of their lives. As women we are expected to do so much and often we are succeeding in areas that we do not even realize. I believe if I had a journal that documented my successes instead of just focusing on my struggles as a child and young adult , it would have been an encouragement to me. Encouragement in my opinion is the big key to supporting gifted girls.

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  16. As I watched the video, I felt myself relating to those little girls. I was a gifted child and have felt the pressure to "do it all" since before I can remember...not necessarily from everyone else in my life, but from my own self. I do believe this overwhelming feeling of being the master multi-tasker and overachiever definitely increased once I was married, had kids and went back to school the first time. Sometimes, I feel like having the label of "gifted" creates a stigma in my life. By being gifted, I was always expected to excel in all classes, make logical decisions, find the best job, etc. I believe that once I married and had kids, I naturally put those pressures on my home life and being a wife and mommy. Thank goodness for this course for showing me that I am not alone in feeling these emotions.
    Three things I would like to implement in my school/classroom to create a positive female program are:
    1. Since I work in a small 6-12 school, I would like to start a mentor program where Pre-AP/AP female students can be paired up with a middle school girl to help encourage her, answer questions and be a positive overall influence.
    2. I would like my students to do more research on strong, successful females.
    3. I also would like to have a club that includes my gifted female students and an influential female in their life.

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  17. I definitely feel the pressure to “do it all” as a modern American woman; it helps to have a husband who assists with things around the house for sure, but there are times I feel guilty when we fall behind on household chores due to careers and school. However, pressures will only increase with age, much like responsibility, and I can still remember being a gifted middle schooler and feeling immense pressure to succeed and prove I was well-rounded so that my transcripts would look good for colleges. Much of this pressure I put on myself—it didn’t come from outside sources, though my parents and teachers did make it clear they had high expectations for me. My expectations for myself were generally even higher.
    To create a “Positive Female Program” within my school, I think it is important to have a specific time and place for girls to meet and discuss their feelings, concerns, interests, goals, and so forth. During this time, a second aspect I would include would be to invite positive female role models within the community to visit and speak with the girls. It is very important for girls to realize that the pressure they feel is not exclusive—many girls experience it and they are not alone. Seeing women who have made a difference in their own lives and communities will also be helpful, particularly if they are given the time to discuss their feelings and issues with these women. Lastly, I think the group should include some aspect of product and service—for example, the girls should also use the time to accomplish a goal, perhaps in partners or teams, or to provide a service to the community. Helping girls to feel like they can achieve and teaching them to network with and rely upon one another will seriously provide a positive impact—particularly since, at the middle school level, girls can be their own worst enemies, and the issues between girls only serve to tear them down further.

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  18. I don't feel any pressure to do it all; I am compelled to and drawn to the challenge to do it all. I am motivated by what is best for those around me. For my kids, I want to be involved in everything that they do, not to keep an eye on them, but to show them how proud and excited I am that they take on new responsibilities or try new activities. In my personal life, I love the challenge of anticipating the needs of those around me. I have been told that I am able to sense the needs of my loved ones, often before they realize it is a need. I find myself seeing two and three steps ahead of most people and anticipating the potential outcomes before they happen. I am an overly positive person who tries to find ways for happy endings for everyone - in doing so, I try to equip those I care about with the skills and abilities to navigate life to achieve those positive outcomes. In my work life, I have actually been told that I make it look too easy. Admittedly, I take on too much (because I never say no), but I take on responsibilities, not in a vacuum, but from a global perspective, seeing how all the seemingly different areas intertwine into the bigger picture. I have also been described as a marathon sprinter, in it for the long haul, moving at a fast pace, and circling back around on occasion to pick up those that are falling behind. But, with all this, I feel no pressure to make it all happen; I am simply motivated by the fact that I believe I was put in this world to make it a better place. How can I use the gifts and talents I possess to make that happen?

    I think there is pressure in our culture for young, gifted females. I think the influence of positive role models is critical to how these students deal with this pressure. I think the development of character, perseverance, and motives in these young women will help channel their gifts and talents in a way that allows for self-fulfillment while making this world a better place. Ironically, I think most of the negative pressure to “do it all” comes from parents and those closest to the child. Anyone who has children understands the incredible pride associated when your child does something extraordinary and the disappointment associated when that same child fails to live up to their potential. I think the pressure that comes from those closest to the young, gifted female is innocent in nature, but has the potential to produce devastating effects. Positive role models mold these gifted, young women to seek out opportunities, understand that it is ok to fail, shows that learning often happens in our darkest moments, and that such learning can actually further accentuate the talents and therefore the potential impact each young woman can make.

    For a Positive Female Program in school, I would start with introducing as many influential female role models as possible. Through guest speakers, fieldtrips, and job shadowing opportunities, I would search for ways to get these girls connected to women who are bright, talented, and make a difference in our community. Second, I would develop a mentorship program that would allow girls to partner with an influential female in the community – someone who is working in the field the student is interested in exploring for a career or works in an area where the student has extraordinary gifts and talents. Third, I would create a service oriented program where the girls give back to their community through using their gifts and talents. I do not believe there is anything wrong with pushing for and expecting extraordinary achievement; dealing with potential of not being able to achieve it all is the dividing line that determines just how successful these young, gifted females, turned gifted young women, can be.

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  19. Personally, for most of my life, I have wanted to “do it all”. With age, I have realized that I place pressures and expectations on myself. As a teenager, I recall coming straight in from school and doing homework for at least a couple of hours. I knew that my parents had high expectations of my schoolwork and I was determined to not let them down. I also remember a feeling of sincere respect for my teachers and did not want them to be disappointed in me. In adulthood, having a full time teaching position, being enrolled in grad school, and having a family all come with tremendous responsibilities. I often want everything to be perfect. First, I want to spend time with my family and be involved in their everyday lives and activities. Second, I have so many responsibilities with home, school, and work. When I think about the expectations I have for myself, it is almost impossible to believe that one person could accomplish all that I have on my list. I believe that priorities have to be set and the small things can sometimes wait.
    I can see how pressure could be felt by today’s young gifted females. I know that they sometimes feel isolated because of their talents. But, they want to fit in with their peers. I believe that adults who have contact with these girls, including parents and teachers, should strive to encourage them and recognize their successes. There are several ways to create a ‘Positive Female Program’ in schools. First, I believe that since girls sometimes have less confidence in math and science that a group could be formed to encourage success in these areas. I know of a school system that has a GEMS (Girls Engaged in Math and Science) club. This club is designed to allow girls to meet after school to be involved in creating and exploring all types of activities in math and science. They have had science expos, spent the night at the McWane Center, and traveled to see the last space shuttle launch in Florida. Second, I believe that staying connected to the other gifted girls within the school would help to relieve some of their pressures. Mentors would be a great way to allow the girls to realize that others are going through the same feelings. Finally, with older gifted girls, there could be a book club in which the girls could be involved in book studies of biographies of gifted women. Each week, the girls could meet and talk about one chapter at a time. This would help to eliminate some of the pressure on them by doing small pieces of the book.

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  20. What is “doing it all,” anyway?
    As a single female living in the South, my biggest pressure is to get married and start having kids. I never seemed to fall into that role as easily as many of my friends have. I have always been more focused on my education and employment than I ever was on my marital status. I guess when I get down to it the answer to this question then, would be a reluctant, yes. Society wants women to do it all in terms of family, and my own drive wants me to do it all in terms of education and career. (I realize that I have bounced around this question, but I do not feel as if I can answer it much better than I have.)
    As a student involved in an excellent gifted program through elementary school, I never felt much different than the gifted boys in my classes. I knew that I had strengths, and I knew that I had weaknesses. I was encouraged to work on both of these areas. I also had (have) amazingly supportive parents who were well aware of both and supported my development of strengths as well as work on weaknesses.
    In order to develop a program that nurtures the gifted female, support is important. A great way for anyone to feel supported (especially girls) is through a mentoring program. It is also important to create a climate that doesn’t restrict anyone to what is expected of them. For example, girls would be encouraged in Math and Science. (On the same note, boys would be encouraged in Language, Literature, and the Arts.) I would also want to introduce students to strong female leaders. This can be done through literary heroines or through community beacons that can speak to the group and be an inspiration and encouragement.

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  21. Wow - just lost my very long comment -
    Bottom lone - I was that gifted kid who was expected to do everything in perfection - so these chapters really hit home.
    I tried to post several examples - but maybe it's better that it didn't go through. . Background info I attended Montessori schools 3rd grade and was moved to Birmingham City Schools in 4th.

    As I a 4th grader, I was "labeled" as GT - and was thus expected to bring home straight As - well - that didn't happen - due to the conduct grade - I always received a B -C for talking..... I was finally removed from my class for a period of time daily - and given a chance to go to the "enrichment" teacher's room where we played boggle. When I wasn't in her room, and had finished the SRA series- I was sent to help in kindergarten... I was happy - except - after reading these chapters - I also realize I was completely separated from my peers. So I didn't' have many friends.
    In response to things I would do in my classroom for GT females - the first is that I would continue to offer math and science components of the curriculum since many of my female students are very math oriented.
    In addition, I would offer some type of social "club" or group where females could come and simply be who they are - and be accepted.
    The final thing I would attempt is to encourage those who are interested to participate in science Olympiad... our school has a team - but I have noticed that it is mostly male. So, I would encourage my girls to try out - and would help them in the process of that stage.. These were the chapters that hit most close to home. I am grateful that the students I have do not seem to be treated differently simply bc they are gifted. And most importantly, they throve on the knowledge that they are.

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  22. I only wish that the pressure to “do it all” wasn’t such an easy thing to talk about. With age and responsibility, I feel the “pressure” increasing. But from where does that pressure originate? As far back as I can remember, I have always been a perfectionist, striving to do my best, be THE best, and not let down my parents and teachers. Growing up in a small, rural town, we did not have identified gifted students or a gifted program, but I was fortunate enough to have a small circle of friends with the same level of self-efficacy and encouragement to excel. I believe that proverbial pressure to “do it all” is something I just have - something that is difficult to deal with. Work. School. Family. Relationships. Working out. It’s hard to let some things slide, but I find that “doing it all” sometimes feels impossible and adds needless stress to life.

    Today’s young gifted females undoubtedly feel pressure. As the video mentioned, it’s hard to make a choice between friends and socializing and being in the classes they need to take. I know I’ve seen young females make the choice to dumb-down themselves in order to be more popular or better fit in. Creating a “Positive Female Program” would be a great way to try to curtail this type of behavior and give young females a chance to identify with one another. The first step in creating such a program would be to offer a specific class/blocked off time or an after school mentoring program simply to let like-minded young females get together and identify with one another. Sometimes seeing that you’re not along is a huge helping factor. Then, as many others have mentioned, I would bring in other successful women as mentors to talk to the group. As a final aspect to the program, they need to do something - or have some type of goal towards which to work. That would be an interesting part to leave up to them - be it a service project, a media production, or something else, it would be beneficial, in my opinion, for the group to have something they would be excited to complete and share with others.

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  23. please excuse the typos in the above entry. Having thought about what it means to "do it all" - I believe there is a difference between the academic and the personal. As an adult,, I thrive on challenge - but also realize that I will shut down if I feel too overwhelmed. I have developed the tools to manage this - but GT students - especially elementary ones - often haven't yet learned what works best for them when faced with the challenge of perfection or failure. So, I believe that one other thing that is important for me to provide for my GT students is a chance to search and test various tools that help them face their challenges and maintain self value. This isn't a "project" or lesson taught - but more so an atmosphere of acceptance. GT students often have to learn how to "fail" without falling apart - as it isn't something that happens often. By providing a safe atmosphere, I believe educators can help these students learn coping skills that will carry them through life.

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  24. I am a very driven gifted female who often feels the weight of the world on my shoulders. I feel like I must do it all---and do it all well! Thank goodness that I am not the perfectionist that I once was in middle and high school. I felt like I had to excel as a daughter, athlete, and student, and friend.
    In my first year of teaching, I have noticed that I have placed goals on myself to also be excellent as a teacher and grad student. I have had to give myself much grace over the last seven months because I’m not perfect and sometimes that best lessons are learned through failure. It is my pride that keeps me wanting to excel in all areas out of my own strength. I have realized that I cannot do it all on my own. I have to lean on my faith. With all of that said, I totally understand the pressure that is felt by today’s young gifted females. They have so much around them. The society that we live in now values women, but there is still so much pressure, especially from social media, for women to be “super-women” and have it “all-together” all the time. It is especially difficult for girls to fall into a comparison trap and seek approval for how much they can achieve rather than who they are as a person.
    I’ve thought and read about several different options that I would include in a Positive Female Program, but I have narrowed it down to three. First, I would have a club for girls. At my school, the students are able to participate in after-school clubs/activities. I had the privilege to participate in a girls only running club; it was so much fun and beneficial for these girls. I could see their confidence grow as they learned more about healthy living and how to run like track stars. Another program that I would implement would be a mentor/role model program. It could be as simple as having a mom or guest speaker come in every so often to speak about her career/goals/dreams to the girls in the school. I think it would be really neat if the students were paired with an older woman for encouragement and inspiration. The last programming option that I would love to implement would be another form of mentoring. I would have the older girls at the school mentor/partner up with the younger girls at the school. Once a week, the older students could read to the younger girls for a short period of time. They could even show the girls around the school and help them adjust. This would help the girls feel valued and realize that they can make a difference no matter their age.

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  25. First of all, I am going to agree with Shanna and Anna. Pressure to do different things at certain times in our life will always be present. I, like so many of my classmates, have struggled with trying to do everything at the same time that everyone else was doing it, or just trying to excel in everything I do. When I began my teaching career last year, I struggled to keep my head above water because I felt like I had some type of standard to live up to because I was teaching gifted children. I was constantly overwhelmed and could not stay organized (still struggle with that) and was dealing with a job that consisted of traveling to different schools, as well as moving to a new town where I knew no one and was much bigger than what I was used to. Now that I am in my 2nd year teaching, I can say that my head is actually above the water instead of bobbing in and out of it. It is so easy for girls (of any age!) to become depressed and withdrawn from the world when expectations of them are higher than what they are capable of doing at a time. It is also very easy for girls to just hide away from everything and everyone when they put so much pressure on themselves to prove that they can do it all. This is where I believe that a program specifically for girls would be beneficial.
    First of all, girls need mentors. I believe that if girls in elementary and middle school have interactions with girls in high school or college who are mentors, they can unburden themselves and realize that they don't have to do it all. The high school mentors should be able to take part in some type of guidance that will aid them in helping not only the younger girls with pressures and expectations, but also for themselves. Secondly, I feel that there needs to be more guidance education with teachers on how to handle situations where girls begin to withdraw themselves in a negative way. If everyone synergizes to learn how to handle situations, the result will be better. Finally, I feel that it is important, as some have stated before, to have a club or program that is specifically for girls. I can remember in middle and high school, the only club there really was for girls was the girls track team. Of course you had to be a fast runner in order to take part, so that excluded a majority of the female population. In an all-girls club, female motivational speakers could be brought in, activities could be planned, other types of mentoring could be implemented, all for the benefit of helping girls realize that they simply don't have to do it all! I would love to see a program like this in the near future. I believe the results could be positive.

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  26. Sometimes I do wonder if I am expected to do it all by those around me or if I expect myself to do it all. I know that I have always been goal driven but those goals seem to increase as I get older. I was one of those kids who never brought home a book during high school and still graduated with a 96 average. I was given no guidance for college by my high school teachers and no one in my family had ever gone to college. I entered college blindly and fumbled my way through the first two years. My new found freedom led to the inability to “actually study” and my grades slipped. Bad grades just reiterated my self-view. I knew I was not smart and had even been told so by a high school math teacher who told me that “I might as well accept the fact that you are stupid and will never amount to anything.” Sudden change in events and I had to move home from college. I quickly got married and went to work. My dream of being the first person in my family was over. Until… my niece was born. When I looked at her, I knew I wanted her to be proud of me and I wanted to be proud of myself. She was born in December and I started back to college in January. I have been going full speed ahead since then.
    Having said that, I realize that I am the one who expects that most from myself. I know I receive encouragement from my peers and friends but no one has pressured me to complete anything. I want to prove myself. Since I returned to college for my BA, and now in graduate school I have expected no less than a 4.0 for myself. I have thought I was being unrealistic but still expect the grade. During my interviews, I interviewed two girls. When asked, “What do you want teachers to know about you that they do not already know?” She said that she “wanted them to understand that just because I am smart, I do not want to do school work all the time. I want time to hang out with my friends and be normal.” Her statement hit me like a ton of bricks. Do we expect more from our gifted students or do we tell them they are stupid? I know that all students are under pressure to perform well, especially our gifted students but we have to remember that they are still kids and need gentle guidance.
    The three things that I have done to try and create a “Positive Female Program” is to first- arrange my class grouping carefully. I form my class groupings so that the students’ personalities will have a chance to shine. Secondly, I encourage my female students to take active leadership roles within the classroom and encourage them to speak up for themselves outside of our class. Thirdly, I started a robotics and programming class at my school for our younger students. I was very selective in forming to classes. I made sure that I was equally divided between males and female (with a final number equaling more female). I wanted to expose the girls to the possibilities of STEM and encourage them to think out-side-the-box.

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  27. Unlike many of you, I am not gifted. I am a high achiever, and I have always worked/studied throughout my life. I set goals, make plans and work to accomplish them. Like many of you though, the pressure to make the grade and finish what I start, has only been applied by me. I am not a perfectionist, but I always want to do well and give it my best. That is what my parents always taught me. (Colossians 3:23)

    At school there are ways I can create a positive program to help my gifted girls. I can connect them with positive role models, and introduce them to strong women that might have struggled in school, yet pursued their dreams in life. This can be accomplished through book studies and guest speakers. For example we could Skype my niece, Leah. In middle school and high school, she always loved and excelled in math and she was an outstanding softball player. She declared engineering as her major in college and received a softball scholarship to a 2A college. She transferred to The University of Alabama in her junior year, graduated with a electrical engineering degree and works with Alabama Power. She is married and has a one-year old son. The girls could ask her questions and discuss what it was like for Leah when she was in elementary, middle and high school. Leah is just one of many women and girls that they could talk with about the hurdles and pressures of growing up as a gifted female.

    As an extension of positive role models, I can provide opportunities for the young ladies to experience math and science in the real world, by offering the girls to job-shadow their mentors.

    Another way to help my girls is to provide sessions with the counselor throughout the year for them to discuss strategies about coping with the mixed messages of being female gifted students. The girls can discuss their strengths and weaknesses, their accomplishments and setbacks, and goals and careers. This should help build their self-esteem, confidence and provide a network of support.

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  28. The pressure to "do it all" has always been self-inflicted for me. Sure, my parents and teachers expressed their high expectations for my life, both personally and academically. However, the bulk of the pressure created by high expectations was mostly due to my own driven nature. I do not remember a time in my life when I did not want to do the best, be the best, etc. Even before I started school, I wanted to do things faster or better than my brother, who is only one year older than me. There is no doubt that this self-inflicted pressure may have also been influenced by my competitive nature as well. As a high schooler and college student, I always had a busier schedule than my peers- with clubs, work, classes, etc. Even as a teacher, I sponsor clubs, coach cheerleading, and serve on leadership teams. This doesn't even touch the personal sector of my life. It's just the way my life has been, and I can't imagine not having the challenge of making all of the puzzle pieces fit.

    I do see tremendous pressure facing the girls that I teach and coach. It is interesting to me how they change through the years. I have the luxury of teaching some of the girls in younger grades that I later coach in middle school. Interestingly, out of the eighteen girls that I coached last year, five were identified as gifted as younger students. Only two of the five identified eighth graders remain in a gifted education program. I believe as girls get older the pressure to "not be smarter" than the cute boy a row over becomes overwhelming. I think that the self esteem of these girls tends to nosedive around 6th or 7th grade, and therefore, answering in class, asking questions, or challenging ideas no longer seems to be the "cool" thing to do. There is a lot of pressure to just fit in, and therefore, standing out becomes scary- even if you are brilliant or talented!

    The first thing girls need in creating a positive female program at our school is to be understood, seen, and heard. As a classroom teacher, I think I was occasionally guilty of spending more individualized time with the male students- because often-times their behavior warranted it, or they were more vocal in their needs. Most of the time, the girls (specifically gifted girls) that I have taught were seemingly always on task, making good grades, helping in the classroom, etc. However, this does not mean that the female student is being served in a way that best nurtures the needs of the child. I think making a conscious effort to encourage specific talents and needs of female students is an area to start!

    Secondly, I am interested in starting a GEMS club open to all sixth grade girls in our school. Often times, girls start to lose interest or lag behind in math and/or science as they get older- not due to ability, but confidence! I would like to spend some time encouraging our girls to investigate math and science principles in a "safe" arena. In my opinion, one way to do this is in an all-female, empowering environment. In doing this, I would like to also pull in successful women to offer support or mentorship to these young ladies.

    Lastly, I am the sponsor for the peer helpers at our school. We have both boys and girls in our peer helper group- and there is a mix of all ability levels. However, I would like to spend some time meeting with only the girls. These girls are the leaders of sixth grade, and therefore, they are the kingpins for the other girls in our school. I would like to spend time discussing self confidence, goals, career ideas, etc., in hopes that this would overflow into the other grade levels and with other students.

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  29. I don’t know the pressure that girls feel because I am a guy Haha. However, I believe most young girls are extremely pressured in school to fit in with others especially during the middle school and high school years. If I had my own school, here are three steps I would take to create a more positive female environment. First, I would have clubs for talented girls to go and embrace their talents with other gifted females instead of hiding them in order to fit in. Second, I would create a leadership program for my gifted girls. In this program, they would work to become a leader by acting to solve an issue in the school or in the community. This would help show other female students in the school that women can be leaders and help solve important issues also. Last, I would have a math and science club for girls only, so the girls who were interested to go and study math and science together. As of now, math and science seem to be dominated by males, so I think this would be a good way to help get more females involved in math and science if they are interested.

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  30. I went to a small private school K-8, and I was so competitive that I always wanted the best grades and captain of all the sports and that was expected there! I remember fighting with a boy in class because he got a 100 on a test and I only got a 99 (but jokes on him because I ended up with a 100 in the class). I didn't feel like that was weird or I was pressured to do that, it was just what I wanted. Then, moving to a public high school, it wasn't cool to be smart any more! I had some friends who were literally super geniuses - but they were almost all boys - and just being above average wasn't anything exciting so it was "easier" for me to just fit in and play dumb. I remember my math teacher wanting me to get a tutor because I hadn't been doing well, but in the session, I caught four mistakes he was doing.

    Now, I still feel pressure to be perfect in all areas, but I don't think that is limited to gifted women, but the plight of women in general. Society wants us to do it all and look nice while doing it. But that is my own personal feminism rant ;)

    Things we can do to promote a female gifted program would be to have successful women come in and talk and read articles about women who are living their wildest dreams! Encourage the girls to be smart and help make it cool to be smart (nerds are taking over the world, afterall). And be a place that welcomes any dreams a girl may have and work to make it a reality, despite social barriers.

    -Anna Miller

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  31. I grew up as a gifted female with a single mother. I have definitely grown up feeling the pressure to “do it all.” My mother has three children for which she was responsible for raising. She had to “do it all.” As the oldest sibling, it became my responsibility to help get it done as well. As a gifted student, I was expected to excel in school while also helping out at home. I have a very competitive personality, which also resulted in me wanting to make sure that I was getting everything done, and everything done perfectly. This attitude and outlook on life is still with me today. I am a single mother, a full time teacher, a sponsor of two clubs, a member of four committees, a cub scout den leader, a soccer team mom, a grad student, and so on and so forth. There is always the pressure to make sure everything is taken care of and handled.

    I see this same type of pressure in many of my gifted female students today. They are expected to do well in the classroom, attend church, play sports, be involved in clubs, and have a plan for their future (my students are 8th graders). They feel this pressure from the adults in their life. In their social lives, they feel a different expectations to not be as smart, to be equal among their friends, to not out run the boys, ETC. These conflicting expectations can prove to be a great burden on female students.

    One way to create a ‘Positive Female Program’ in my school is to have a female retreat or group building field trip. My school’s Peer Helper program takes a field trip to a local summer camp area each year for a day of Team Building activity. This would be a great way to build positive relationships among female peers within the school. Too many times media and society emphasize females “bashing” each other. It is important for girls to understand the importance of uplifting each other to create strong relationships and a more positive experience for everyone.

    Another idea for a ‘Positive Female Program’ at my school would be to introduce positive female role models through studies of successful women and having successful women speakers at the school. We have a Career Day each fall. Too often our career speakers are mostly male. We have been working to incorporate female speakers into our program from a variety of career backgrounds to encourage our female students to understand that they can achieve any career they set their minds to do.

    Lastly, having a safe place or club where gifted female students can share their anxieties, stresses, and feelings is a way to create a ‘Positive Female Program.’ While gifted female students feel stress from parents and friends, this would be a way for the female students talk through that stress and gain friends with the same insecurities and stresses. A teacher/adult leader of the safe place or club could also bring in speakers or stress relief activities to guide students to managing their lives in a positive manner.

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  32. As a student growing up, I never remember feeling pressure from anyone to excel in school. Almost the opposite, I felt like I wasn't expected to excel at all. But I put enough pressure on myself to more than make up for it. I remember thinking that teachers didn't like me if I made less than a 100 on tests. Of course, as I grew older, I realized that was not true, but I had already built my identity on doing well in school. As an adult woman, not gifted, but a perfectionist, I still feel pressure to excel in academics, along with everything else. Yet I had never thought about why I put so much pressure on myself.
    I think that as women, especially married women, we do not get recognition or credit for the things we do well. When a family is successful, the man is usually credited for the success, even when the wife contributes. At the busiest part of my life, when my children were 2, 4, and 11, I worked full time with my husband in our business with two little children with me. I worked, was responsible for getting the girls to school, preschool, ball practice, piano, ballet, gymnastics, for our home and meals. As hard as I worked, at home and at our business, I still had someone make the comment to me that they would not be able to stand being a "kept woman" like I was. It seems no matter how much we do or excel at, women's achievements are not recognized. Maybe that's why we feel like we have to over-achieve.
    The first thing that we can do for our gifted girls is make sure that their achievements are recognized. The second is to make sure they know that they do not have to be perfect and they do not have to excel at everything they do. There are many ways to do this, clubs, mentoring, role models, but I believe the basic needs the same.

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  33. Katherine Kiser

    It is always interesting to read blog posts about something that "hits home" for so many different people. I really identified with Karen when she talked about not being gifted, but still feeling the pressure to do everything and do it correctly or better than the next person. I think that this is due to the pressure I put on myself, high expectations of parents, teachers, and role-models, and society.

    Not only is there a focus on males today and has been since day one, but society also puts some pressure on women to have it all together. At least, this is the norm in "The South." While times have changed, there is still a culture with certain expectations, as well. I embrace most of it. :)

    I recently got news of former female gifted students who have really had a difficult time finding their place in the world. They have had a hard time socially at school and cannot seem to find a group that feels right to them. They are very mature for their age, yet do not see how incredibly beautiful they are inside and out. They do not give themselves credit for their accomplishments and they sometimes feel like nobody else does either. As is life, they lose friends and make some new circles, never sure if that is where they should be. They do not feel challenged academically and do not see the point in a lot of the work that they do. The things that they were once interested in and accepted are not as cool as they used to be. Where do they express themselves? How? Will everyone else be there? Who will notice? Who will care?

    I cannot remember exactly what it felt like to be in middle school, but I know it was a hard time for everyone. That is where some of my former students find themselves now. They deal with the confusion and pain by writing, reading, drawing, and listening to music. They either throw themselves into their school work or disengage completely. Some are very depressed.

    I cannot begin to tell you how sad this makes me and how it has caused me to really reflect on the way I interact and teach my students. I wonder what I could have said in our classes, what activities I could have done with them that would have made them feel better about who they are. I feel responsible for not doing more.

    This is a reason to change. This is a reason to open your eyes. This is real.

    So, what do we do to help girls find their place where they feel like they can do anything? I don't have all of the answers, but I do have a few ideas. A new club was just started by our gym teacher at our school that is focused on providing a fun outlet for our girls. They run, talk, and work together to build confidence and strength. It is extremely positive and it is a start. I think that it is important for ALL girls, not just gifted girls, to feel empowered. I love Weston's ideas about implementing a math and science club for girls only and a leadership opportunity for girls as well.

    We know that a mentoring program is important for any gifted program, but there could be special emphasis placed on encouragement in typically male dominated fields. I also really agreed with the ideas of others about making time for the girls to have a chance to speak with the counselor. Our counselor does already do small groups about different topics, but I this could be a very meaningful time for many of our girls.



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  34. In opposition to most people in this class, I was not classified as gifted growing up. I may be gifted, I may not. I have no idea. However, I have feel pressure to do everything and to do it well for practically my whole life. I was always expected to get good grades and I did, until college. I was always expected to be talented in some way so I took ballet classes until I was 16. I was always expected to be the perfect trainee for womanhood, so I learned to cook, clean, babysit, etc. I have always felt the need to be perfect and I have strived to do so, this probably explains my anxiety :). I believe that when you are smart, not even necessarily gifted there are many expectations placed on you. Then as you grow into adulthood you have the added pressures of being an adult added to that. You have what the world sees as either you have "learned your place" by taking a teaching job and having babies and settling down and finally getting out of school - or maybe some see it as you "gave up." And then if you continue to do things, like go back to school or pursue other dreams, you are "finally working towards your potential" or you are "worrying" some people with your never-stopping pace. Being a woman/girl is so conflicting and has so many expectations from different people. It begins early and never goes away. I think that gifted girls are probably some of the most unfairly expectation laden students we have.

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  35. I was identified "gifted" in elementary school. The school that I attended had an excellent gifted resource program for students through the 6th grade. I don't remember feeling different than my male peers or struggling during those years. Beginning in 7th grade that was a different story though. Our gifted services were provided in 7th-9th grade through academic classes. In 7th grade one of those was a Math class. I struggled the entire school year. Looking back on the experience as an adult, I realize now that school year set the tone for my experiences in every Math class I took well into college. I had a teacher who told me that Math "wasn't my thing, but that was okay because it wasn't the subject for a lot of girls". Luckily I also had a gifted Social Studies class and that was definitely "my thing". The teacher of that Social Studies class became a mentor for me and fostered a love for history and politics that has followed me into adulthood.
    I am an only child so my parents have always pushed (and fully supported) me to be successful in whatever I participated in both inside and outside of school. I am also a first generation college student. Both my parents grew up in abject poverty so beginning in high school, I clearly understood that my graduating and going on to college was fulfilling dreams for both of my parents as well as my personal goals.
    I completely agree with my classmates that being a woman in the South the expectations for women INSIDE the home are huge and daunting and at times completely overwhelming. I am almost constantly discussing with someone, somewhere "how I do it all". For so many women in my mother's and grandmother's generation, college was a pipe dream so my obtaining a Bachelor's degree, Master's degree, and now being back in graduate school with a family and a full-time job seems absurd. It seems absurd to me sometimes too honestly.
    As a gifted teacher in a title 1 school, I feel great pressure to offer support to my female students. During my 3rd graders introductory unit on understanding their giftedness, I always bring in biographies on gifted females to share with them. It helps give them a tangible application for their giftedness I think. I would like to work towards bringing in some speakers from local area businesses and programs who are gifted females. I feel that having access to real life role models would be excellent for my girls. Particularly those who may have come from similar backgrounds. I believe that setting up a formal mentoring program where my elementary gifted female students could be mentored by high school and college aged gifted female students would be amazing. I believe that the more my gifted female students have access to real life role models the more successful they will be.

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  36. Gifted girls, especially gifted middle school girls, need a teacher to provide them with an environment and skills to no only foster their giftedness , but also to counsel them in dealing adolescence. They need reassurance of their talents and skills to cope and fit in. Teachers can seem so distant, and gifted children need an adult that they can trust, relate to, and learn social skills from to build confidence. Gifted girls need to be confident in their talents as well as life skills. I think getting to know your students and building a relationship of trust as a teacher and mentor is one of the most important things a teacher can do. Also, inviting successful gifted women into the classroom and finding literature to share with the girls on successful gifted women will help these girls to become more confident in their gifts an life skills. Kimberly Johnson's post above (or the lower part that I can see on my screen) mentions a mentoring program for gifted girls. I guess that is what I think would be most beneficial. I sure could have used a mentor during those rough middle grades.

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  37. Pressure to do it all: I am not, was not, and probably won't ever be gifted. However, as a child I was reading those SRA kits above grade level. I couldn't wait to start the next box and visit older grade level classrooms. I also remember reading all the books in the school's small library. My favorite memory was the excitement of the book-mobile coming to the country store and getting to read new books. I cared nothing about math and still struggle with simple recall such as my PIN# at an atm machine. Numbers only have meaning on the slip of paper after getting money from the machine.

    Her name was Elizabeth. In 5th grade she was 6 feet tall. She had a beautiful smile. She could out run everyone, play any sport, and beat the boys. She was artistic and could draw anything. She was the teacher's favorite and made straight As.
    She decide not to be gifted. She slumped around and didn't smile. She refused to participate in PE. She threw away work she didn't want to complete. Her favorite activity was art, but the art teacher no longer was assigned to our school. She refused to be gifted.

    Step1: Promote success especially with female leaders and with video clips such as Outrageous Acts of Science that have beautiful females that are scientists. As a contrast, probably viewing Monday Mythical Morning would promote female leadership....

    Step2: Remove gender bias; be alert for low self esteem and social issues such as nonacceptance.

    Step3: Create a learning environment that promotes interest, self-initiation, discovery, and personal learning strengths. Promote the message that risks and mistakes are okay. Keep messages positive. Converse with students and know who they are, how they are, and where they are headed.
    As I reflect on Special Populations, I'm beginning to realize I "can't do it all" in the gifted classroom. How is it possible to meet the multifaceted needs of gifted learners?

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  38. I think that the pressure to do it all for women is based on the culture that you find yourself a part of. For example, in my family, in the past women have not sought after high level degrees and lofty positions. They have been, for the most part, homemakers, with a part time job here or there. With the way that culture has progressed, and the standard that has been set for what families should be doing (such as vacationing, houses, vehicles, name brand clothing,etc.)I think women do feel the pressure to do it all by feeling the need to get a college degree and working a full time job, while being a wife and mother all in one. I just recently started working 4 years ago after staying home with my first two children when they were little, and it has definitely been a huge adjustment. I did this for two reasons: 1 reason is that I wanted a sense of self pride and accomplishment other than being a mom, and I knew that I had talent that I was wasting. I also did it quite honestly for the extra money.
    I was identified as gifted in elementary school, and participated in gifted classes all throughout school. I had high expectations for myself and planned to go to college straight out of high school and pursue a degree in accounting. Plans changed and I ended up getting married and starting a family...postponing my dreams of higher education. I felt a strong desire at that point to stay home and really had no ambition of going to college any more. As years progressed, I kept getting that idea in the back of my mind that I wanted to achieve a college degree and eventually work as a teacher. I say all of this to say, I believe roles of girls and women vary depending on the home life. In order to encourage gifted girls to excel in the classroom, these three things should be done:
    1. Provide girls with mentors or examples of females who have worked and become successful in male dominated fields such as math and science.
    2. Start girls clubs that focus on areas that girls might not normally get involved with to expose them to new things and give them confidence in themselves to break the status quo.
    3. Be aware of gender bias and treat all students equally regardless of gender. Set expectations for boys and girls based on ability, not gender.

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  39. Many gifted students especially the girls do not view their school experience as meaningful. For instance, they may not find school intellectually stimulating, because they have already mastered the content or can master it quickly. Often times, girls socialize and communicate rather than exploring their full potential. Repetition bores many of these students, and once they have learned to expect boredom in class, they will fail to embrace new learning experiences when they arise. Other gifted students find school topics uninteresting regardless of the level of challenge, because they have developed a well-defined area of interest that is not matched by what happens in school. This leaves them “turned off” to what is taught. Still others do not appear to be interested in anything, either because their early school experiences failed to nourish their natural curiosity or because they doubt their ability to do well. As a female, I recall school boring me and found myself talking and looking for other things to occupy my mind.
    1.Promote self- awareness and girl power
    2.Encourage discourse and discuss the issues that are causing issues with the girls
    3.Engage in a mentoring program

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  40. I think that the pressure that women feel to “do it all” comes from portrayals of women in the media. We live in a society in which women are no longer limited in their career choices. There are female doctors, attorneys, CEOs, and there is even a female running to be the President. I think that women put the pressure to do it all on themselves. They see other women who have successful careers, children, a family, a social life, and they are involved in their community. As a general education classroom teacher, I see the way that the females in my class interact with each other. I currently do not have any identified females in my class; however, I have several high achieving females. In order to create a positive female program, I think it is very important that schools have female mentors to work with high achieving and identified gifted female students. It is important that these females see and hear about the opportunities and experiences that are available to them from role models. Due to the fact that females tend to be more emotional than males, counseling needs to be made available, as well. Gifted and high achieving female students tend to be perfectionists and very critical of themselves. It is important that they have the opportunity to have their feelings heard and be able to express their struggles freely. Many of them do not want their peers to know when they struggle. A third step to take in order to create a positive female program is to have females read biographies. It is crucial to encourage female students to read about other females who have been inventors, scientists, doctors, judges, etc. Reading about these strong females allows the students to feel encouraged and realize that it is possible for their dreams to come true also.

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  41. When I was growing up, women still had the role of homemaker. My mom and all of her friends were stay-at-home moms. Women on television and in the movies were homemakers. Very few women had careers, even on t.v., and those that did were administrative assistants, teachers, and other jobs where they could assist men in doing the more "important work". Females were portrayed as the weaker gender. It was unheard of to see a woman on t.v. or in the movies who was leader ; who was physically or mentally strong. Women were pretty little things; sex symbols whose beauty was highlighted, but never their strength of body or mind.

    In my house, things were different. I have three sisters, and we were all taught to be strong. We were encouraged to show off our intelligence and to be whatever we wanted to be. We were all expected to go to college, and we all earned our bachelors degrees. Three of the four of us have a masters degree. My father and mother were true supporters of the strong female.

    While it was wonderful to grow up with such supportive parents, it was also a double edged sword. We all graduated from college and went into the work force. We all got good jobs and began successful careers. Then we began having families, and the pull to be everything to everyone began. We are supposed to be moms, wives, and successful business people. Try to do all of those full time jobs well. Try to do even one of them well, without feeling guilty that you are not giving enough time to the other two. It's an impossible situation; one with no real solution. Many women give up one or more to do the other well. However girls should still be encouraged to try to do it all.

    Women today have many more advantages than when I was growing up. We have choices, whereas many women in earlier generations did not have choices. That alone is a big accomplishment for women. Girls today should be encouraged to be strong, but they should also be allowed to show their emotions and their feminine side. They should be able to follow their dreams; to be whatever it is they want to be. Strong female role models are important to encourage strong girls. Strong teachers, administrators, and staff should be highlighted within the school. Female professionals should be invited into the school to give female students an idea of how many choices they have if they work hard. Clubs should be formed where girls can take leadership roles and be in charge of organization and planning. Girls should also be encouraged to research female heroes. Girls should also be encouraged to join clubs like math club or science club. Girls should be celebrated for their achievements in these subjects.

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  42. More and more pressure to "do it all" is increasing in today's society. A lot of the time females don't realize they are doing it all, until something happens and they have to let go of a couple of things they are juggling. Even then if they quit juggling something they feel everything will come crashing down. My mother was total opposite. She always tells me that I worry about things that I shouldn't and I try to tell her I am preplanning. I always try to have a plan B to everything. She was a homemaker and did not go to work till we were in school. Even then it was a low stress situation, not as much juggling as their was playing a game of catch. My dad was the "head" of the household and my mother was the manager. I feel that today kids are in everything imaginable and we are trying to work, be mom of the year, or pinterest mom of the year, manage the house, finances, etc. I have no answer to this ever changing role of female of the house.

    I do plan on implementing more female literature and female historical figures into my curriculum. I do feel that their should be better female role models than what girls see on television today. They are missing out on advancing themselves because they are doing the "Jenner lips". We have clubs at my school once a month and I think it would be a good idea to create a science club or math club just for girls where they can feel free to try new things.

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  43. Growing up as a gifted female with a single parent mother and a younger sister was nothing extraordinary for me. I've always been an "old soul" and was always the "dependable" one in any group. I had to "do it all" from a young age. Cooking dinner, cleaning house, laundry, in addition to making excellent grades, basic house and car maintenence and repairs - beginning at the age of 10. It was just a way of life. Things had to be done and I was the one who would research, find out how, and get it done - from changing a flat tire myself to replacing a wax ring/flange under a toilet.

    I read books about independent girls and role models, but it would have been nice to have had some kids around who had the same kind of life as me. A program involving kids in similar situations and strong female role models would have been helpful.

    Also, having a program which encourages girls to become scientists or engineers would be beneficial to gifted females.

    I also believe another beneficial program would be one in which gifted girls could be mentors or pals with younger students. I believe this could be helpful for both parties.

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  44. Growing up as a gifted female with a single parent mother and a younger sister was nothing extraordinary for me. I've always been an "old soul" and was always the "dependable" one in any group. I had to "do it all" from a young age. Cooking dinner, cleaning house, laundry, in addition to making excellent grades, basic house and car maintenence and repairs - beginning at the age of 10. It was just a way of life. Things had to be done and I was the one who would research, find out how, and get it done - from changing a flat tire myself to replacing a wax ring/flange under a toilet.

    I read books about independent girls and role models, but it would have been nice to have had some kids around who had the same kind of life as me. A program involving kids in similar situations and strong female role models would have been helpful.

    Also, having a program which encourages girls to become scientists or engineers would be beneficial to gifted females.

    I also believe another beneficial program would be one in which gifted girls could be mentors or pals with younger students. I believe this could be helpful for both parties.

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  45. Growing up, I was in the gifted class at my elementary school. I remember there was quite a few girls in our gifted class, which typically out numbered the boys in the class. I don't believe there were any additional support methods, so to speak, for the gifted females at our schools other than just the gifted class pull-out that was for both gifted males and females.

    I believe gifted females in elementary schools really need additional support systems and encouragement because it is such a crucial time for females, especially females that don't appear to "fit in".

    In my opinion, it would be a great idea to also offer different support services to both females and males in the upper elementary grades to avoid social deficits that may unintentionally result from the lack of support systems offered in our schools today.

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  46. When I was growing up I didn’t feel the pressure to do it all. I have always been an over achiever and set high and sometimes unrealistic goals. My vision has always been if you are going to dream, then dream big! After marrying and becoming the mother of three awesome sons, suddenly I felt that I had to do it all! I had pressure from family, church, work, schools, ball teams, etc. It was hard to take a time out for me or to take an hour or two for myself. I’m working on this now to develop new habits for slowing down and enjoying life. It seems like my pace remains much too fast.
    I’ve noticed that the age seems younger for this “do it all mentality.” Teens seem to be the most affected by this attitude of grades, friends, peer pressure, and the need to be the best. However, I see it also occurring more in elementary students! My students are in third to fifth grades and its in their behavior patterns as well. I think schools should create positive programs, clubs or organizations, where girls can meet to discuss peer pressure and stressful situations. Castellano and Frazier (2010) states, “History reveals that same-sex friendships play and enormous role in the formation of self.” We need to make sure as teachers to encourage these young girls on making good choices and not giving in to pressures of our society.

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  47. Bri Chaffin RichMarch 6, 2016 at 3:20 PM

    When I was growing up, we had a gifted program called RLC. I was not in this program and was never identified as gifted during my childhood. I suppose I could be gifted since the definition has broadened over the years, but I don't know if I will ever really know. That being said, I have always put pressure on myself to do everything well, but this was mostly my own doing rather than society's. I do have many gifted girls in my GRC English class who definitely put a lot of pressure on themselves to do well and then I have some who do not. I feel like the latter group of girls is the group who are pressured by their peers to "fit in" rather than to show off their intellect. After watching the video, I feel that there are many ways I could help the gifted girls in my class and other gifted classes at our school. For one, I think beginning the year with an independent research project where they researched a gifted female would be beneficial. I also think that bringing in successful females who are working in a career that is usually done by a man to speak with the girls would be eye opening for many of these girls as well. Lastly, I think (like the video mentioned) that keeping in touch with the gifted teachers at the middle school would be very helpful for many of these girls. When they go to high school, there is no gifted program and I think this relationship could be very beneficial.

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  48. I feel pressure to be the best teacher, the best student and the best wife. Like many others have said before me—some of this pressure comes from society and some I put on myself. I really hate the idea that many of my gifted female students feel the pressures that I do.

    This is something that woke me up to realization that my gifted female students do feel pressure and experience anxiety—Two weeks ago a mother of a student of mine called and wanted to discuss some concerns she had about her daughter. Her daughter and I are extremely close and she knew that I would want to know what was going on and would try to improve the situation. She told me that her daughter was worried about failing out of the gifted program, not getting into the magnet school, not graduating high school with good grades, not getting accepted into Auburn University, not getting accepted into veterinarian school, not finding a good job and as a result not finding a husband or having children. Needless to say, this broke my heart. I had no idea that one of my extremely smart, female students would even begin to worry about things like this. It really made me stop and think about things.

    I reread something I posted from 581 and still really like some of the ideas:
    There are so many different ways to reverse the unfortunate underachievement of gifted females; however it takes a village. In order to successfully change the way in which gifted females view themselves and their success many different people need to be involved. Parents and/or guardians, family members, teachers, administrators and peers should be encouraging and supportive throughout the process. Rimm’s six-step Trifocal Model would be a great resource to use since it incorporates a substantial amount of collaboration between home and school. Three different programming options that schools could begin in hopes of eliminating the underachievement of gifted females include:

    1. Providing mentoring opportunities between high school females and elementary females—this may help eliminate some elementary females falling victim to underachievement early on if they are paired with a successful and respectable high school female.
    2. Establish female-only clubs or sports early on in elementary school. This will provide opportunities to be a part of something, learn responsibility, take on leadership roles, and even develop/teach a specific talent.
    I began the first-ever yearbook club at our school—there are 11 girls and each one has been given a specific job (photographer, assistant photographer, writer, editor, etc.) and they have really impressed me with their drive to get things accomplished.
    3. One-on-one or small group counseling for gifted females—discuss career opportunities, study successful females, etc.

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  49. I think one reason I felt confident growing up as a gifted female was because my mentor, a Bible class teacher at church, is an extremely gifted female and isn't afraid to show it! I had a wonderful role model to follow growing up that I could talk to about anything; she understands me.
    I think another way I handled growing up as a gifted female was to form strong relationships with my gifted peers. My two closest friends throughout elementary, middle, and high school, and even college were two gifted males. I never felt any difference between their achievements, opportunities, and attitudes and my own. We competed neck and neck throughout our entire educational careers.
    It hasn't been until recently that I can see and feel a difference. Timothy has gone on to become a professor of music at UA and Aaron is a financial strategist for a banking company. They are climbing up the ladders of their careers and will continue to do so. I, however, am a teacher wondering, "What happens to my career when I want to have kids? Do I have to give it all up?" I am completely undecided in this area, and sometimes I'm angered that I have to make the choice. I feel like the choice is either (a) be a great teacher, (b) be a great mother, or (c) be an acceptable teacher and mother. At times I wonder if all the schooling is worth it if I will only teach for a few years before possibly giving it all up.
    On the other end of the issue, concerning how others viewed me as a gifted female, I never felt as though any adults in my life expected me to "tone it down". They encouraged every opportunity for me to grow, compete, excel, etc. In fact, my (extended) family encouraged me to choose a career other than teaching because they felt it was a waste of my talents. My mom told them, "But don't you want the schools filled with talented teachers? It's a great place for her!" Interestingly enough, I have faced issues in my job where my employer has asked me to pull back on my intelligence because being "too smart" is causing problems.
    The other girls at school were really the only source of problems growing up. They often told me things like, "You think you're better than everyone else because you're so smart," or "Well aren't you just a little goody-two-shoes." These comments really hurt and often brought me to tears; however, I had a lot of support coming from pretty much every other avenue of my life.
    If I had a gifted program to design, the first thing I would do to support my female students would be to connect them with strong female mentors. I think I also wouldn't be afraid to foster competition between the boys and the girls; this may not be in line with any research, but it was a driving factor in my life. It could benefit other girls and empower them to be great. Another strategy I would employ would be to arrange for counselors to regularly discuss any struggles or difficulties with being a gifted female. Last, there would need to be examples of successful women, either in our community or in the world, who found a way to balance their lives as gifted females. (These examples could benefit me as well!)

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  50. I also cannot identify with the struggles of a gifted female. However, I see it in my students frequently. Teaching middle school is hard. Teaching middle school girls is harder. I have a larger portion of girls in my classes than I do boys. I believe that many of my students feel pressure to do everything. I think some of that comes from teachers encouraging students to be involved. We tell them it will look good on college applications, scholarship applications, etc. I think that our girls sometimes hear this and feel like they have to do everything. I think our girls need to be assured that they don’t have to be involved in everything in order to be successful. I believe that we should encourage our girls to pursue math and science driven fields of study. I also believe that women in these fields have made extraordinary strides in recruiting more women to them. I think that women grow up and feel like they need to wear many hats in life. They feel like they need to be a successful professional and a perfect mother and wife because that is what is shown to them in the world (however unreal that is). I also think that girls are mean—especially middle school girls. Today, I think social media has made it harder for our girls to avoid bullying.
    What I think today’s girls need is empowerment. I think students should be able to choose a same sex person that they admire to explore. I think our boys should do this as well. There are many students in my school that do not have permanent male role models in their life. I also think there should be some math and science lessons geared toward female interests. When math is taught using “putting up a fence” or “towing a car,” girls check out. While there are multiple ways to make it applicable toward topics that are interesting to middle school girls. While I believe that middle school girls should know how to put up a fence and tow a car, they probably are not interested in it while they are in middle school. I think that girls should have a “safe place” to acknowledge when they are being bullied. However, if you’re being bullied and you report it. The bully usually finds out and then the bullying continues or gets worse. So, I think a bully hotline, would be helpful for our girls to report in a confidential, retaliation free, avenue.

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  51. Oh, what a topic…where to start. I grew up with strong women mentors who feel a tremendous pressure to do it all. As a first generation college graduate in my family and the very first female to decide not to stay at home with my son, there has been major pressure, most self inflicted, to measure up when balancing marriage, motherhood, my career and graduate school. My mother is a major did not go to work full time until all children were in high school, but she still carries the pressure to handle everything! I used to be that person too, but have recently learned that it is okay to say no! I am so busy with school, work and family that I have cut out all extra activities and guess what….the world is still turning and life goes on. I think as females we have to give ourselves a break sometimes!!! If you struggle with not being able to say no to leading another group, volunteering at this place or that, organizing this even, etc., I suggest the following 2 books:
    1. The Power of No by James Altucher
    2. The Approval Fix by Joyce Meyer

    I'm not saying that you don't ever need to be involved in groups and events, but sometimes ladies you just need to take a break and focus on yourself and family. =)

    I teach in a general education class and currently do not have any identified females, but I have in previous years. I think that females need to have mentors and build relationships with other successful females. Through this mentor relationship as well as through class activities teach females that it is okay to be smart and successful. So many times females dumb themselves down to fit in around the middle school age, this is so sad! A third thing that we can do for our gifted females is provide them with experiences and opportunities they would not get elsewhere showing all the options that successful females have.

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  52. This is Tina Dillen above. Guess I was not logged in any longer when I posted!

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  53. Having also not grown up a gifted female, I have limited knowledge of what it is like to be one, but fortunately I am engaged to one and therefore have access to a bevy of anecdotal evidence of powers that she displays that I could never match. She is also a teacher and tells me specific problems that she has to deal with at work that are invariably linked with way society enacts gender roles. I feel a rise of indignation when people question how hard teachers work and how much they should get paid. I think the historical evidence shows that teachers started making less money when the teacher work force was socially designated as a role for a woman. The reason for this is simple. One could pay a woman less. The disproportionally low salary for teachers in our country is tied up in the idea that it is “women’s work,” which is absurd. In our age there are political movements that are thriving and actively addressing the role of equality in the workplace, which is still not enacted. Education is unfortunately rife with examples of how we reposition women into roles that are based on ideas of domesticity and gender that have no claim on contemporary ideals of what women can or should do in the world.

    Like many people I had to question my own assumptions about race and sex when I became a college student. I realized that my reading was disproportionately white male. When someone told me that in order to be a better balanced person and that I needed to increase my interaction with books by and about people unlike myself in order to expand my ideas about the world, I accepted it as a good, rational idea. So, in order to increase awareness of these issues in my school, I like to do the three following things.
    I actively distribute books to my students. I try to encourage them to read books by people unlike them. As a result, I will suggest books that might encourage a more sympathetic view of the world.
    I tell my students about the disproportionality of women in the workplace. I tell them that the numbers of Ph.D.s in some fields is overwhelmingly male and that many of these disparities come from misplaced views about gender roles.
    I actively try to investigate my own assumptions about gender so I can be as sympathetic and open a teacher as possible.

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  54. This is a topic I feel passionately about, especially after writing my research paper about gifted females. The more I read about gifted females, the more I learned about myself. I realized I was the classic underachiever as child. I wanted to be great at everything and when I felt too much pressure or if I could not do it perfectly, I would just shut down. I also got bored a lot and didn’t feel the need to try once I got to middle school. I was that girl that would downplay my talents around my friends. I always felt like I had to choose between being popular or smart. And I think that was due to not truly fitting in with any “group” of friends. Also because of what I went through as a child with my brother being sick, I was more mature than most kids my age. I never felt like I truly fit in with people my own age, I still sometimes feel like I don’t fit in anywhere. Adolescence was definitely the hardest time for me. As a young student, I knew I was gifted and I was in a setting where my talents were nurtured..The older I got the more I could feel the pressure of being a female and I honestly felt like I was just supposed to be a ¨pretty¨ girl in the popular crowd and that meant I couldn´t be smart. That might sound weird but I have vivid memories of my friends telling me that my vocabulary was too big, or as they said, you use ¨big words.” And I remember eating lunch with my english teacher so I could talk about books. The ¨smart¨ girls were always mean to me because I didn´t fit in with them either. I ended up ranking in the top 40 out of 296- which to me shows how much I underachieved.
    I have always loved education and learning and I think that was such a hard balance for me. And when you, Dr. Besnoy, made the statement about the quote in Mona Lisa Smile when referencing my paper, it really resonated with me. I initially went to college to do Public Relations, but I knew I wanted to be a teacher. I just felt like that wasn´t the route I was supposed to take because I was gifted. And people would tell me that. I remember when I finally decided to do what was best for me and transfer and change my major to education, people would actually say to me, ¨oh but you would be so good at….¨ Now as an adult I do often feel like I need to do it all. I often take on too much and I typically feel like I have to say yes to everyone. I feel like I could talk about my experience as a gifted female forever… but what is important is what I have learned from being a gifted female and now studying them. I hope to take what I have learned and use it in the classroom. I want to be that positive mentor/role model for gifted females. I was lucky enough to have a several positive female role models that helped me to better understand my talents. Because stereotypes are so bad today, I feel like it is important to help gifted females understand that they really can do anything and not to let the media frighten them into not doing something.
    I think I felt the pull towards being a teacher because I wanted to be that mentor to future gifted females. I have always seen myself being an advocate for those students who need it most, and I believe gifted females fall into that category. Another way to support our gifted females is through professional development. It is so important that we go around and help our educators to better understand gifted females in a way that will help them reach their potential. It is also important for educators to recognize that there is a difference between gifted females and gifted males and then seek out information and professional development to aid them.

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  55. I have never shared my educational background with any of my professors until now. I was homeschooled k-12 and never went to public or private school a day in my life. My mother was a certified elementary school teacher who decided to use her talents to teach her own children. My father is an electrical engineer who was a National Merit Scholar. They both graduated from Auburn and decided to homeschool us. I am one of four children (myself and three brothers) and we were all homeschool k-12. My parents felt it would be best to homescool us for many reasons. One of the reasons they felt compelled to homeschool us was to allow us the chance to follow our passions whatever they may be. Another reason was because they didn't want us to be pressured by society to be something we are not. Because of my homeschooling and parents that were very supportive I never felt pressured or under-appreciated as a female at all.
    My parents trained all four of us to be problem solvers that could think on our own. We were not trained to be what society said we had to be. My brothers learned to cook, do the laundry, and clean the house, just like me-the girl. I learned to change the oil in my car, mow the lawn, use the weed eater, change a flat tire, work on cars, and have mud fights, just like my brothers.
    I did (and do) feel the pressure to hide my educational background all through college. Many of my professors spoke out directly against homeschooling assuming there were no homeschoolers in the room. I made mostly A's in college so none of my professors assumed I was homeschooled. But I also had to be very creative in how I talked about my educational background. I had professors talk about how homeschoolers would never be prepared for the college life and how they would never make it through their course. I knew my grades would suffer if I ever acknowledge my academic past.

    When I came to Alabama and heard Dr. Newman and Dr. Besnoy discussing homeschooling in a favorable light I was shocked. It was the first time I had ever heard homeschooling postitivly mentioned by professors.
    I'm sure I will feel the pressure to do it all if I have kids but right now I am a single woman pursuing my career and I do not feel split at all.

    Like I mentioned above my parents homeschooled us to help us develop into who we were and not what society said we were. This has made me more aware of the pressures that young gifted females have on them because they pressures do not seem normal to me. I am caught off guard by society being a driving force that shapes young girls because it was not a driving force in my education.
    Young girls (especially in the south) are encouraged to be gentle, supportive, mild-mannered, submissive and nurturing. Anything that does not fit into these categories is frowned upon. A girl taking AP classes is seen as being rebellious (even if no one would say it that bluntly) because she is rising above girls work. Girls also suffer the pressure to be social instead of academic. No one looks thinks anything is weird if a girl goes shopping with her mom and spends $100 on clothes. But everyone would think it was weird if that same girl went shopping with her mom and bought $100 of laboratory equipment for a science project.
    The pressures are subtle and they often come in the form of comments and jokes (but are they really joking?). Gifted girls pick up quickly on these subtle undertones in a conversation and realize that what they are is not accepted in society fully unless they change something.


    Lydia Hinshaw

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  56. There is a multitude of steps that one could take to help gifted girls see more supported and accepted in your school.
    1) include books on famous and successful gifted women. There are tons of ways you can incorporate these women into your units. When you study a certain science topic. Find a famous man AND a famous woman that contributed to the topic you are studying. When you are studying a certain genre of writing have the kids read a book from that genre writing by a man AND a woman.
    2) Always mix your teams. Never play games boys vs. girls. That increases the idea that men and women are in competition with one another. It also could solidify the idea that one gender is better than the other. You should always use random teams and random partners. If you do this and a boy ends up being paired up with another boy it's not a big deal. It's simply luck of the draw.
    3)Create an environment of possibilities. How? Allow all students to pursue learning in an area they are highly interested in studying. Encourage all students by allowing them to read about people of the same gender as themselves who have succeeded in the student's area of interest.
    Lydia Hinshaw

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  57. As a young child I felt pressure to always do the right thing, help others, make good grades, and do my part around the house. As a young teen my family adopted a toddler brother and then my parents divorced. I felt a great deal of pressure to parent him because both of my parents worked and I was the one with the same schedule as him being in school.
    As an adult working wife and mom of four while in grad school, I feel a great deal of pressure in all areas and keep the house under management. I have a wonderful husband that tag teams with me while being a great dad and hard worker to make sure we get it all done, everyone gets to their practices, we take care of our family, and as a deacon takes care of our church family. He has many leadership and service roles in the community and his company to hold, but having his support and partnership makes my pressures easier to deal with.
    I’m afraid many gifted students do not have support to deal with the pressures they are under to perform well and be “perfect.” As children they may not have the same types of pressures we feel as adults, but they still have their own set of pressures. Girls especially have a complex unique set of social pressures. Three ways I’d like to help the gifted (and non-gifted) girls at our school is to set up opportunities for female leadership, a mentoring program, and a mom and me club.
    I think it is important for combined male and female leadership opportunities, just male leadership opportunities, and just female leadership opportunities. In this way, each person could cultivate their own qualities for service in unique niches. It would give them real-life experience for adult life. Females can be encouraged to attend youth leadership programs, lead clubs, be members of the SGA, etc.
    Another way to help gifted girls would be to have a mentoring program where the girls are paired up with an older mentor in the community or school to work with. I would love for them to be able to spend the day shadowing female community leaders. I would also like to pair each gifted girl up with a younger student to then mentor herself. They could learn a great deal of leadership from being involved in this type of program to help someone who could look up to them.
    A final way I would like to help gifted girls is to have a mom and me club. This could be in the form of just a monthly tea party where the girls and moms interact. This would not be a time when the girls play while the moms talk and drink tea. It could be a book club, a bible study, a science project theme, or classical conversations time. Whichever format chosen, it would be a time when the girls spend time interacting with other peers and adult females in productive thinking. In this way they can gain through a social environment while still learning leadership and engaging with others.

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  58. I can most definitely relate to gifted female. I do agree with feelings like I have to be great at every area of my life. I am currently feeling overwhelmed with every area of my life. Women have many different roles and titles and at times it feels like I just can't do it all, but I feel like that is no excuse because the world today does not care about the different roles, it just wants excellence. It is a struggle that many people do not acknowledge. It is challenging trying to give 100% in 5 different areas in 5 different ways simultaneously. The gifted girls I have come across are very verbal and can read extremely well as well as write. They are easily frustrated when they cannot get an answer and the older ones will seek out answers for themselves. I did notice one thing in the video I have not done, which was encourage them to read biographies about successful women. I think these young girls need an outlet to vent. I always thought you just have to have it all together at all times or you were failing. I think life for a girl is challenging and I've experienced girls competing with each other far more than I witnessed them encouraging each other. I think we need more encouragement both peer and mentor, as well as clubs, books, and community involvement. I would push for womens history month celebration as well. Sometimes all it takes is a little recognition.

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  59. Hot topic here, many other students have had a lot to say about this topic, so here is my two cents. Having grown up in the 60’s listening to Gloria Steinem, reading Cosmopolitan Magazine, and being instilled with the belief that I could be anything I wanted to be was a little overwhelming. With so many options I feel like I’m still trying a few of them out. Believing “I could also have it all” I tried many things and soon learned that I could have it all, but that I could not always have everything at the same time. Which I believe is what Dr. Sally Reis found in her research, and talked about in point number two of the video, when she mentioned that men frequently have a larger body of work in one area of study, while women are diversified in many areas. Further, that women feel compelled to achieve excellence in all areas of their life, not just career and financial providing as men still typically do. Women can also feel driven to excel as “soccer moms”, well groomed moms, homemakers, housekeepers, cooks, along with having a successful career and providing financial security.
    Personally, I think that women who want to pursue careers outside of the nurturing career have to be a little tough skinned or at least have the independence or confidence not to be dependent upon external forces for their self-worth. I also think that it is easier if they have female role models and/or a father, grandfather or uncle that encourages them if they show an interest or aptitude for non-traditional career paths. Coincidentally, these are also factors that will reduce underachievement in girls as well as boys in all cultural groups.

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  60. I am not sure if it is because this is my first year teaching or because it is my personality, but I do feel the pressures of ‘doing it all.’ I have my normal responsibilities for my classroom, I am creating the yearbook for our middle school, I began graduate school last August, I was the Assistant Basketball Coach, I am currently the Assistant Track Coach, and I am renovating my grandparents’ house. I have a need to stay busy, and possibly a desire to prove than I am capable of doing these things. I am not married and I do not have any children so it does make it easier that I am the only one I have to take care of. I think the young females in my classes take on too many things. They are pressured by their parents, teachers, and even themselves that they must be perfect. Somedays they will get so frustrated at themselves that they will bring their self to a panic attack. I think being in middle school makes it even more difficult, Frazier included an excerpt from phycologist Pipher (pg. 197) that stated “We live in a look-obsessed, media-saturated, “girl-poisoning’ culture.” I recall myself in middle school, dreaming of being someone else, anyone that I would see on TV. My young girls are exposed to the media even more so now, they conjure up this idea that they are not good enough. One step I could take to correct this would be to, help them see their potential by helping them create their healthy sense of themselves. I am just now asking myself ‘Who am I?’ ‘What do I want?’ I laughed when I read those questions in Frazier’s book (pg. 199). For so so long, I have asked myself, ‘What would make my parents happy?’ ‘How can I show others my worth and potential?’ Another step would be to help out young gifted girl answer those questions and show them they are not here to please others. My third step would be to allow an opportunity for these young girls to develop HEALTHY female relationships. I have listened to many conversations in my middle school classroom and in the hallways where these young girls will treat their female friends like one would think they would treat their enemies. It is extremely unhealthy and demeaning.

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  61. HMM!!! I do not feel as though I grew up feeling that I had “to do it all”. I do not remember having a gifted program in my elementary, middle, or high school. My priorities were always pleasing my parents, staying active, and being outside. I grew up as the only girl. I was raised with five boys, so I didn’t feel that academics was of great importance. That being said, I was a pretty balanced student. I had an easier time with math and science. I was always encouraged, but never felt pressured. I went to small schools where everyone knew everyone. I didn’t feel pressured or insecure about my academic abilities. I do wish I had more opportunities to express myself and creativity. I do feel that I had the tendencies to be an underachiever. I did what was needed to “get by”.
    I do feel that girls have a lot of pressure to do what is expected of them. It may not be the path that they choose or intend to take, but the path that is expected of them. I feel that girls are expected to excel in certain areas and are frowned upon when they don’t meet those expectations. I feel that they believe they have something to prove and they want to please all that are involved with their academics.
    I feel that ‘Positive Female Programs’ would benefit the gifted female. I love the idea of having mentors. I think that if girls are introduced to successful females in areas of their interest they would be given the possibility of a positive influence. Second, I feel that creating a club for girls with “different” interests would allow them to form a bond with other girls like them. They could create, discuss, and just enjoy topics of similar interests. Last, I think that allowing them to explore more in math, science, and technology would benefit them. I know that there are programs out there, such as, GEMS and STEM that can boast their comfort level with the areas they may not be as comfortable with or expected to be “good in”.

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  62. This comment has been removed by the author.

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  63. I see so many people writing how they don’t feel pressured and I’m envious. How is that possible? Please share the magic pill :-) Honestly, I’m completely overwhelmed. I try not to let myself think about the pressure because I start getting chest pains, and I don’t want to have a panic attack. I never and I mean never have down time these days and I unintentionally (at times) add more to my plate. Like this week for example:
    Monday: Talents training for work and faculty meeting
    Tuesday: After-school tutoring and webinar for a math grant I received
    Wednesday: My sons IEP meeting and physical my therapy
    Thursday: Another talents workshop for my school, after-school tutoring, meeting at my son’s school
    Friday: Take my class on a fieldtrip to Montgomery, return to Mobile, leave for Tuscaloosa
    Saturday: Class, drive back to Mobile
    Sunday: Leave for Orlando for my sons Disney fieldtrip with his school
    Not to mention the regular routines school, work, house chores, kids homework, grading papers, planning, yardwork, cooking…. I want to be the best mother, teacher, and student I can be and it’s HARD!
    So, pressure? Yes! I definitely feel it. When I’m doing one thing right, I’m slacking at another. Like this weekend, I did yard work and forgot to post the Module 3 blog by Sunday. Or now, I’m doing school work and my son is whining wanting me to spend time with him, but when else can I do this blog? See schedule above ^ and we have a paper due! AHHHHHHHHHH!!!!!!! Perhaps I should begin a journal this made my chest pains stop… When can I do that??? HAHA!
    And I know I can’t be the only one to feel this way. There has to be other single moms in our class keeping it all together right? Or not even a single mom, we all have pressures in life.
    I know my gifted girls feel pressure. I had one cry the other day because she made a 75 on a science test. They always want A’s. They are so hard on themselves. They also feel pressured to “fit in”. Bullying always hits a high this time of year in the fourth-grade. It’s like those hormones start kicking in at full swing.
    The first step I can take at my school to create a positive female program is actually already in progress. I’m working on creating a running team for the school next year (spin-off from the 5K). I’m really considering making this an all-girls running club and this module along with the Dr. Reis’ speech from the last module are encouraging me to take that path.
    Second step: create trusting relationships with those girls
    Third step: lead by example, relate to their pressures by sharing some of yours, and ENCOURAGE, ENCOURAGE, ENCOURAGE!

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  64. The pressures I feel to 'do it all' comes from being a wife, a new mom, an employee, and a college student. I want to do it all to the best of my ability. This is my third year to teach gifted but my second year in my present school system. I work an hour from home. When I get home from work, I want to and feel the need to spend time with my baby. Then, there is work to do around the house, spend time with my husband, and work on graduate work. My life is packed with responsibilities that all need my best effort. I feel like I am going non-stop 24/7. I do know that life will begin to calm down soon enough.

    Today's young gifted females experience pressures to a great extent. Socially, they may struggle to fit in with other female friends. They may feel pressure to be accepted by females and males. Some females even play down their smartness. Society imposes certain images as to how females should look and behave. Some gifted females feel that is more important than being comfortable to be themselves.

    These are three steps I feel important to implement at my schools to create a 'Positive Female Program.'
    1. As a gifted teacher, I can encourage gifted girls and be
    their cheerleader.
    2. Get the faculty and staff at the schools on-board to
    recognize and further develop the female's giftedness.
    3. Provide opportunities to partner with female mentors so
    students can see it is good to be successful and how
    others are empowered by success.

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  65. Me personally, I do not feel the pressure “to do it all”. Don’t get me wrong, I do a lot of activities and have a lot of responsibilities, but I don’t feel like I have to, I want to. I have my schoolteacher responsibilities, grad school, archery coaching, tutoring, and STEM club. I do this because these are all things I am interested in, not to prove my worth. Do I feel pressure? Sure, everyone does from time to time; your life would be boring wouldn’t be active if you didn’t feel pressure from time to time. However, I don’t think that is a female trait, I think that is a human trait. Most everyone wants to do the best they can.

    I did grow up being offered gifted classes in elementary school and middle school. Did I enjoy attending these classes? No, because they did not speak to my interest in school. I loved science; so I would much rather attend a science class opposed to a gifted class where I wasn’t performing science experiments. My parents pulled me out of these classes because I wasn’t being challenged or enjoying the classes being offered. Now, if my gifted teachers did an interest survey, I would hope my experience with gifted education would have been different.

    I know some people have commented how female students feel pressures, but honestly I think all students do. Females feel pressure to fit in and make friends, but honestly who can say that males don’t feel these pressures as well?

    Positive Female Program:
    Encourage students to be the best they can be- mentor to them
    Create a science club for gifted female students
    Role Models- Have a female scientist/inventor of the week for my students to learn about.

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  66. As a student in the 80’s I never felt pressured to compete with my classmates for the best grade or for a spot on any academic team or sports team. I was always encouraged by my mother, who was a teacher, to do my best at anything I attempted. This was enough. I was always able to accomplish most goals I set for myself by working hard and preparing and finishing tasks early. Fast forward 20 years to marriage, motherhood and college. Once I decided to finish college I was very determined but completing all the tasks of motherhood, college student, wife and life seemed to be very daunting. I felt that I needed to excel in all areas at the same time and it was impossible. The standards that are set by society for girls going into the world today to be able to maintain a certain look, hold down a job that contributes a sizable percentage to the family’s income, raise a family where all children participate in extra-curricular activities, and be a community servant in the process are very daunting. While not all girls prefer to take the nurturing route and stay home and raise a family, girls that do should be treated as if they are contributing to the needs of the family and their worth is important and worthwhile. Girls that choose to go into a certain career path should be prepared, determined and confident that they are as worthwhile to the profession as their male co-workers.
    As a teacher of gifted females, I see daily the potential that so many of my female students bring to the table. They are smart, inquisitive and driven. As a teacher and role model I should nurture these traits and offer situations for these girls to explore interests that are important to them. Bringing in mentors to further develop and inspire interest on certain topics. Teachers should also allow student chosen topics on projects and any other assignment when it can be applicable. As it is mentioned in Special Populations in Gifted Education in chapter 9; We live in a look-obsessed, media-saturated, “girl-poisoning” culture. To turn this pattern around, we as teachers and role-models can encourage and nurture the ideas and potential of young females by encouraging them to share their feelings of inferiority or insecurity with us. We can then work with counselors, teachers and other stakeholders to build confidence and creativity in areas of interest to the individual girl. Changing the direction of society is a task that will take time and determination from all stakeholders involved with raising girls.

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  67. I think being a gifted female means balancing all of the cultural expectations that are heaped on you and ultimately deciding what you need to do, what you want to do (Castellano & Frazier, 2011). The video clip noted that luckily gifted girls often have a better self-concept and an good internal locus of control. I think these two things especially are critical for success. So many things rang true for me - the choosing a career was tricky because I was interested in so many things. As Dr. Reis stated in the previous module, the body of work of females is often spread across multiple domains as opposed to concentrated into one because of the many roles we play and the demands on our time.

    As an adult, I stayed at home with my children until they were in preschool and I became involved with the schools first as a volunteer and then as an enrichment teacher. I chose to focus on them, and being a mother, providing the best education (and action research / observation) I could. Now as a Gifted teacher, and a student, and a wife and mother, I try to balance all of these things, but my priorities are mother and teacher. I think at different stages in our lives, we are going to focus and allocate our efforts differently. I am at peace with the fact that I cannot be all things all the time.

    For me, I had very good, unconventional role models in my mother and father. My dad, an engineer in research and development supported and affirmed my love of science, as did my mother, with a masters in physics who stayed at home with us and then became a computer engineer. My mom firmly debunked the beauty myth from young childhood, so I could steer clear of the "looks-obsessed beauty culture" (Castellano & Frazier, 2011, p. 197). This family support and the support for the unconventional also helped me.

    The three things I do and will do in my classroom are:

    1. Emphasize trying and that mistakes are allowed - especially for girls and practice makes better (not perfect).

    2. Allocation of time in a considered matter - we can't all do it all - all the time. Trade-offs are not permanent - we can choose short-term projects, and like Mae Jemison have different parts of our career at different times (or like me).

    3. Hard work does not mean you are not "smart". In fact hard work makes you successful. This last is my effort to both combat and prevent underachievement. I remember wondering if I had to work at something that I was worried other people might think my "smartness" was a fraud. I make a concerted effort to highlight and reward hard work and praise effort as well as debunk the "smart = no work myth" early in these elementary years so that when the going gets tougher later, these nuggets will hopefully be remembered :-) (Bronson & Merryman Nurture Shock, 2009)

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  68. I do feel that societal expectations toward women are high, especially for mothers, however, I don’t know that high expectations are a bad thing. Personally, I wish fathers were held to the same standard of excellence in both family life and career achievement. A female-positive program would involve helping girls internalize their successes; providing female mentors; and offering bibliotherapy that focuses on notable women.

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  69. Growing up, I didn't feel any pressure to do it all. I was aware of my parents' expectations about grades and behavior, and so I did what I needed to do to meet those expectations. During middle and high school different pressures arose, like fitting in. Middle school was the worst, but I managed to connect with a few good people and worked my way through that. I have always known what type of person I am and don't really feel bothered about what others think. That is even easier now as an adult.
    Some good steps to help young females today are:
    1. Have a mentoring program......Young girls need to spend time with other women who can relate to them.
    2. Create clubs that offer girls the opportunity to freely express their creativity and uniqueness.
    3. Mothers are the greatest role models for girls. I think every mom and daughter should have one day set aside that belongs only to them. This time can be used to talk, listen, listen, and listen some more.

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  70. Until now, I had not actually considered the pressure that I feel to ‘do it all’. I agree with a fact in the video clip that males do tend to have more career opportunities than females. I can also relate to the fact that females have a more difficult time selecting a ‘single’ career path. Although I have credentials in several of my selected career paths, I often tell individuals that ‘I don’t know what I want to be when I grow up’. It is my belief that the pressure to ‘do it all’ is stronger for today’s young gifted females.

    To create a ‘Positive Female Program’ in my school, I can take the following three steps:

    1) Collaborate with my school counselor to develop counseling sessions designed to help females realize their potential.

    2) Collaborate with my school counselor to locate one-to-one mentors who will encourage females to recognize and utilize their talents.

    3) Collaborate with my school counselor to organize a reading club or book study club designed to encourage females to read and discuss biographies of successful multicultural women.

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  71. I felt pressure when my husband and I first married. His parents shared in old-fashioned beliefs and felt that I as a woman you should aspire to the domestic side of life and "guide the house and care for the children". I was pretty miserable because I felt I needed more. I also struggled with guilt because I was not content to just be a housewife. I was referenced as a workaholic and someone that could not just be. I put off finishing college do to trying to please others. They say hindsight is 20/20 and I must agree. If I could have a do-over, I would defiantly have shelved their ideas and followed my own heart at an earlier age.

    As an educator and a mentor I will encourage girls that they can aspire to anything they choose. They will have to overcome negativity, however they will have to view it as small obstacles in the way of their dreams and push forward. I will encourage them to research and study other successful women. I always was a big fan of Susan B. Anthony and Joan of Arc. (Thank God society has progressed and our girls will not suffer the same fate as Joan.) I also would like to promote a local organization that connects the girls in my community to other gifted females. I was one of the girls that hid my abilities in order to fit in.

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