Is Ladette and Celebrity Culture Destroying Young Women’s Confidence?

Dame Patricia Hodgson, a Cambridge University academic has claimed that young women are so sexualised and image-conscious they lack intellectual confidence, believing they are less intelligent than boys. She says ‘Quite a few women are held back by fear of failure and lack of confidence. It stops them fulfilling their potential’ and she blames the ‘celebrity culture’ that judges them on their looks and frowns upon academic achievement. Young women need positive role models not just models and celebrities. A recent survey to determine the future 100 most powerful women had only a few academics and business women, much of the list was made up by women famous for the sake of being famous, not for having achieved something, a sad reflection on what influences young women today. Dame Hodgson also mentioned the number of girls who approached her during this year’s Freshers’ Week to say they thought they ‘had made it to Cambridge by mistake’ - could this be the beginning of Impostor Syndrome which many women in the workplace suffer with?

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  • Kate Atkin

    Some poignant thoughts Suzanne.
    I’ve just re-read Marianne Williamson’s quote: Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous? Actually, who are you not to be?
    Perhaps there’s something in that too which strikes a chord? If you’ve made it to Cambridge, you *have* to be successful, is that what triggers a lack of confidence?

  • Susan Heaton Wright

    Hi Suzanne
    I couldn’t agree more about the sexualisation of girls and the expectation of women to ‘empower’ themselves by dressing provocatively; there is a time and place for everything and Cambridge University “Getting – your – tits – out” doesn’t nothing to add value to female undergraduates. I read the article above. The gist was that female students are far less confident than they were a generation ago. In fact I don’t TOTALLY agree with this. When I went up to a top prestigious university, my first misogynist encounter was on the first day of lectures, in the huge Lecture theatre, in front of 130 other students. The lecturer surveyed the room and homed in on me “Oh, so you’re here for your MRS are you?” We didn’t complain about sexism then, or about us being devalued; we had to put up with it. Despite the fact that my A Level results were JUST as good as any of the male students, as I was female with long blond hair, my place wasn’t as ‘deserving’ as the boys. I would say that the majority of the women at university felt like second rate students due to our gender, because it was still expected that we wouldn’t pursue a career in the same way as the men. Sexism is still alive and kicking; women get to university, but they now have to devalue themselves by pole dancing…. MMM.
    Have a great Christmas.