Researching young ladies and women of color in the marketplace, community, educational system, and corporate America there seems to be an ongoing trend of silence when faced with individuals who are currently termed as the majority. Today’s workforce is an open opportunity to all people. Yet educated and confident young ladies and woman of color when face-to-face with individuals and groups who are of another gender and females of the considered majority choose silence even in this day and age. One may ask how it is possible or even disagree but throughout my research it is evident that intimidation, degrading, lack of confidence, disrespect, and talking down are several methods used to keep young ladies and women of color from expressing ideas or voicing opinions. Using such tactics cause these young ladies and women of color to take the silence approach time and time again.
Lisa Graham McMinn, an associate professor of sociology at George Fox University, wrote in her book, Growing Strong Daughters, discovered from her research, “Women seem to have no confidence in their ability to learn or comprehend, and they depend entirely on others to direct them.” Furthermore, McMinn states, “These girls are often raised in isolated homes. Not much talking occurred in their homes, and when it did, daughters more often heard hurtful words rather than nurturing ones.” McMinn, does not state in her research the ethnic background, demographics, or economic status of the young ladies, therefore, we cannot assume or give false information pertaining to young ladies of color. As a researcher, one could ask “Is there a lack of confidence in young ladies of color that silence their voice when around others different from themselves?” Reading a line in, “Women’s Way of Knowing” it is noted that, “To a large extent, these perspectives were influenced by the homes women grew up in.”
In continuing with the research; a survey was initiated with 15 female teenagers ages 14 – 17 from, a high school in, Central Ohio, with an average grade point of 3.9, one could conclude based upon the teen-agers response with parental permission, the silence stems from a lack of confidence while in front of individuals and groups who are perceived as affluent. The 15 teenagers made up of, African culture, African American culture, Palestinian culture and Hispanic culture all communicated during a face-to-face interview that “They are at times intimated by the status of the students in the class room; therefore, although they know the answers and are able to win a debate they choose silence.
With each question, the teen-age girls of color stated that there is a sense of fear, a lack of confidence, a lack of respect and overall silence with others unless; they are prompted, or encouraged to speak. One thing that was common was that, many of the teen-age girls of color who are successful in obtaining a higher grade point average indicated their upbringing in their home setting has created a mental tape to be silent. The ongoing phrase stated, “Speak only when spoken to.” I think about growing up. It was the household rule. Another common phrase shared, “Children are to be seen and not heard.” Does this phrase continue to carry over in our homes and with our young ladies today?
Join in the conversation. Share your thoughts as we seek to ‘Make a Life Investment’ in the lives of our young ladies.