Title

The Perfect Girl: Gender as Barrier to Health and Occupational Potential

Presenter Information

Jill Mueller

Start Time

30-10-2004 3:00 PM

End Time

30-10-2004 4:30 PM

Abstract

Women are twice as likely as men in the United States to be clinically depressed. In many cases, the depression begins at or shortly after adolescence. Additionally, while their school performances are as good as or better than boys‚ during childhood, girls‚ academic achievement is known to decline as they become adolescents. This paper will suggest that increased rates of depression and decreased academic performances among adolescent girls may be occasioned by their internalization of societal expectations about what is thought to be „appropriate‰ behavior and/or ambition for females in Western culture. Adolescent girls who feel a need to be better liked and/or more acceptable to others may be more likely to limit themselves to traditional female roles than girls who do not experience such insecurity. They may attempt to enact the super-human and selfless qualities of the stereotypical ideal woman. In enacting this standard of “Nice and Good” to please others, girls may unwittingly curtail the development of their own present and future occupational potential. This paper will review the works of Carol Gilligan (1982, 1988, 1991) and Dana Jack (1991) on moral development and the relational self to describe the phenomenon of self-silencing by adolescent girls. It will discuss the general relevance of Self Determination Theory (SDT) (Deci & Ryan, 2000) to all occupational science research that links human motivation (White, 1959, 1974), competence (White, 1959, 1974; Matheson & Bohr, 1997), and flow (Kowal & Fortier, 1999) to the development of occupation and the facilitation of health across the life span. Finally, the implications of a gendered SDT approach to the work of professionals specifically concerned with the occupational development and psychosocial health of adolescent girls, including occupational scientists, occupational therapists, and educators, will be explored.

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Oct 30th, 3:00 PM Oct 30th, 4:30 PM

The Perfect Girl: Gender as Barrier to Health and Occupational Potential

Women are twice as likely as men in the United States to be clinically depressed. In many cases, the depression begins at or shortly after adolescence. Additionally, while their school performances are as good as or better than boys‚ during childhood, girls‚ academic achievement is known to decline as they become adolescents. This paper will suggest that increased rates of depression and decreased academic performances among adolescent girls may be occasioned by their internalization of societal expectations about what is thought to be „appropriate‰ behavior and/or ambition for females in Western culture. Adolescent girls who feel a need to be better liked and/or more acceptable to others may be more likely to limit themselves to traditional female roles than girls who do not experience such insecurity. They may attempt to enact the super-human and selfless qualities of the stereotypical ideal woman. In enacting this standard of “Nice and Good” to please others, girls may unwittingly curtail the development of their own present and future occupational potential. This paper will review the works of Carol Gilligan (1982, 1988, 1991) and Dana Jack (1991) on moral development and the relational self to describe the phenomenon of self-silencing by adolescent girls. It will discuss the general relevance of Self Determination Theory (SDT) (Deci & Ryan, 2000) to all occupational science research that links human motivation (White, 1959, 1974), competence (White, 1959, 1974; Matheson & Bohr, 1997), and flow (Kowal & Fortier, 1999) to the development of occupation and the facilitation of health across the life span. Finally, the implications of a gendered SDT approach to the work of professionals specifically concerned with the occupational development and psychosocial health of adolescent girls, including occupational scientists, occupational therapists, and educators, will be explored.