Courage doesn’t always roar. Sometimes courage is a quiet voice at the end of the day saying, ‘I will try again tomorrow.' — Mary Anne Radmacher
It just doesn’t add up.
And it’s not just because I don’t particularly love when someone calls me “girl” (although it’s right up there with “babe”).
Girl Math, as defined by the zeitgeist, is an invented set of rules to justify impulse spending. What may have started as a joke has become a trending phenomenon where women detail their thought processes to rationalize purchases. All purchases. Any item under five dollars is considered free, as is anything bought with cash. If you return an item you’ve purchased, that is considered making money. But who is keeping track? This feels less like budgeting — and more like repression. Girl Math is one episode away from “I Love Lucy” hiding her hat purchases from Ricky.
The Female Economy
Fact: By 2028, women will own up to 75% of the discretionary spending, making us the world’s greatest influencers, according to Nielsen. And Forbes has called women over 50 “super consumers” as with "over $15 trillion in purchasing power, they are the healthiest, wealthiest and most active generation in history.” With a bank account like this, who needs Girl Math? (And side note, who doesn’t want longevity?)
While we may still be fighting for equality and reproductive rights, what we do have is power. And math skills. Girl Math reinforces that we lack both. Which Scientific American has revealed is not true, despite the stereotype. In a 2018 article, they uncovered that “overall there are only small differences [between] boys and girls [in math]” and the larger difference in math outcomes are in overall performance. “Girls tend to have less positive math attitudes: They have higher levels of math anxiety and lower levels of confidence in their math skills. This means even when girls show similar performance levels to boys, they are often less sure of themselves.”
The Power of Yet
It’s no surprise that while women's self-worth is challenging — particularly as we age — it may not be as dire as advertised. Despite the need to find the square root on a calculator. Too often, our failures are considered just that. Failures. While they are, in fact, often the outcome of risks taken. Stanford University Psychologist Carol Dweck, who introduced “Growth Mindset” into our vernacular, would agree that we are not giving ourselves enough credit. “Women equate failure as a fixed mindset and correlate that with their identity, meaning if I fail, I must be a failure. Men, on the other hand, see failure as data.”
With a growth mindset, our brains process errors, learn from them and correct them.
Dweck advises that the solution is not to fret about building confidence, but rather developing unyielding courage. “Courage can exist in the absence of confidence. It is the micro changes that yield a courageous mindset. These are small-scale acts that have incremental impacts over time and long-term returns. Build your capacity to learn new things, so eventually, what once took courage, is now routine.”
I highly recommend her phenomenal book, Mindset: The New Psychology of Success, to learn more. It is a must read that can influence all areas of life; by transforming our mindset, we find our greatest fulfillment. Dweck’s “The Power of Yet” approach is an easy way to develop a growth mindset, reminding ourselves that some things are worth waiting for, it’s not always easy but “the power of this small word allows for success.”
No justifications needed. No Girl Math required.