I stumbled on this article about slut-shaming fatigue and a particular point stood out to me and sparked some other ideas.
Create the Same Mistake-Friendly Culture for Girls that Boys Already Enjoy.
In our culture boys — who are represented as both more obtuse and more resilient — get encouragement to make mistakes; repeated failures are the seeds of masculine success. Girls, on the other hand, get reminded that one mistakewill likely ruin their lives. “One of the biggest problems is that we imagine that for teen girls, sex is some kind of cataclysmic event that can never be recovered from,” says Ford. We make the mistake of assuming that giving girls the freedom to fuck up is really just giving them the freedom to be exploited. As Ford puts it, that’s “not exactly a flattering view of girls’ emotional intelligence.” (Jezebel)
I would venture to argue that the same culture that warns girls not to take sexual risks (lose their virginity, date or have sexual contact with a boy who may be “risky” or “unsafe”, or have “too much” sexual contact) also dissuades them from taking risks in general. Female students who are go-getters will likely start a charity or club, while boys will start a business or tech venture. This is veering into the issue of gender imbalance in STEM, but I suspect that the entrepreneurship gap is directly related to the fact that girls is discouraged from taking risks in general. Boys are rewarded for being bold and non-conformist; dropping out of school or selling illegal copies of books, burned CDs…anything they can get their hands on. Girls are constantly told not to break rules or upset the status quo; if you want to do something great you can do it within the confines of what the school and your parents tell you to do.
I think this is stifling the creativity and ingenuity of girls and preventing fruitful learning experiences from taking place. We need to cultivate a culture that tells girls to take risks just as much as it tells boys to, and reinforces the idea that a failed business or underground activity in their young years will not turn into a scary mark on their permanent record or a trip to juvie. Many of the entrepreneurs that the Western world worships (George Foreman, Walt Disney, Henry Ford, Richard Branson, Simon Cowell to name a few) were rebellious risk-takers in their young years. They were also all male. The women who are prominent entrepreneurs and self-made millionaires/billionaires went through more traditional paths.