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Self-esteem of the sexes

Tendencies in the female sex:

  • underestimation of one’s own performance
  • self-attribution of failure, not success
  • inferiority complex

Tendencies in the male sex:

  • overestimation of one’s own performance
  • self-attribution of success, not failure
  • additional revaluation by the environment
Overview of topics:
Self-esteem
Congenital tendencies
Social amplifiers

The Happy Jona values:

✓ Equality   ✓ Sustainability   ✓ Honesty   ✓ Self-worth   ✓ Respect


Wawra 2004 was able to show in her doctoral thesis that men sell themselves more confidently in job interviews and present themselves as competent, while women rather mention with their weaknesses.

We will clarify if these gender differences in self-esteem are learned or innate. Therefore we have to find out whether there are any genetic gender differences that influence self-esteem and we´ll also investigate whether boys and girls are treated differently by their environment.

Self-esteem

As the name suggests, self-esteem is the evaluation of one’s own person. It is therefore closely linked to the ego (I, the self). A synonyms is self-worth or the more general used self-confidence. Potreck-Rose and Jacob distinguish four pillars of self-esteem: self-acceptance, self-confidence, social competence and social network¹.

Self-esteem serves as an indicator of social integration, as we derive it from feedback of our environment. Stereotypes and self-esteem are closely linked. By upgrading my own group and devaluing other groups, I increase the value of my group and thus my self-esteem. Unfortunately, this provides an incentive to make negative evaluations to other groups and to form prejudices.

According to Marcia (1980), the development of one’s type of identity in dependence of gender has a significant influence on one’s own self-esteem. Learn the types of identity she distinguishes and the interaction with gender and self-esteem.

Congenital tendencies

Social Interest

Many studies suggest that the female gender has a higher social interest. From birth onwards, girls tend to look more often towards human voices and maintain more eye contact. Consequently, it makes sense for them to make their self-esteem more dependent on their social relationship, while boys define themselves more through their individual performance². Other findings suggest that women take other people’s evaluations seriously, while men do little or not at all³.

Performance assessment

Boys tend to estimate their performance significantly higher than they actually are, whereas girls underestimate themselves. They perform better than they believe they can.


» more about the topic of over- and underestimation of the sexes

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One would think that with experience and learning the self-assessments of the children would get closer to the true values. If girls have been better than they thought several times, they will rate their performance higher next time. In the same way, boys would have to learn to correct their self-assessments downwards.

No correct attribution, no learning

The prerequisite for such a learning outcome is that the children attribute their performance to their own competence. A girl would have to understand that she performs better than she expected, because she is better than she thought. Girls, however, show a tendency to see the reason for their success in external circumstances. If she has performed well, she tells herself, for example, that the referees acted in her favor. Boys, on the other hand, attribute success to their own skills and failure to external circumstances. If they are not the first in a race, they believe, for example, that other children had better shoes. Therefore, there is no reason to correct the self-assessment downwards.

girlsboys
self-assessmenttoo lowtoo high
attribution of successexternalinternal
self-esteemlow and fallinghigh and rising

The innate tendencies towards self-esteem are not ideal for any gender. An overestimation of one’s own self leads to frustration because too high expectations cannot be fulfilled. The external attribution of failure also prevents boys from recognizing their weaknesses, which keeps them from learning from their mistakes. Girls only write failures in their book. Their low self-esteem falls further into the cellar.


Where does the notion come from to attract attention at any cost – and why that’s male »

stand out at any cost - Happy Jona
Attention at any cost to increase self-esteem – why is that male? Open in another tab »

Social amplifiers

Now, the effects described above do not only affect the children themselves. Adults have long formed their stereotypes which they pass on to children as role models, through expectations or through their behaviour. This way, they additionally amplify the gender´s tendencies.

Mother´s expectations

Mothers, for example, expect a higher physical performance from boys even though there is no gender difference in muscles until puberty. Although in the end they help boys just as often as girls, mothers consider girls to need more help⁴. They probably internalized a stereotype according to which boys are more independent and efficient. Children will adapt to the behavior that is expected of them.

Observational studies also show that mothers praising sons tend to mention their competence and thus encourage them to attribute success internally (“I knew you were a math genius”). Talking to girls they simply do not mention their competence (“I’m glad you got an A”). The girls then lack the opportunity to associate success with their own abilities.

The effect of criticism

Because girls are more neuronally mature after birth than boys, they tend to behave more appropriately in the first few years. As a result, parents have to admonish them less often. Because they are accustomed to the more adapted behaviour of their daughter, they also rarely praise her. Since the child’s positive behaviour is not taken into account, she has less opportunity to establish a connection between a positive result and her own behaviour. If the girl on the other hand show inappropriate behaviour, it stands out more for her parents and therefore triggers a quick reaction. Girls take such reprimands more to their heart than boys, who tend to be accustomed to a flood of reproaches sind⁵.


» next topic:

Causal attribution of success and failure

We already mentioned that girls tend to assign failure to their incompetence, but success to factors, whereas boys believe success comes from their abilities, while failure is not their fault. Lern where this is coming from »


sources:

  1. wikipedia.org Abruf 16.06.2019
  2. Bischof-Köhler “Von Natur aus anders” 2006, S. 231
  3. Roberts, 1991
  4. Bischof-Köhler 2006, S. 253
  5. Bischof-Köhler 2006, S. 254