For College Women Leaders, Young Professionals & Those Who Love Them
Rosie Says "WE CAN DO IT!" Does This Include Prioritizing
Time For Self-Care?
By: Maria Pascucci, Founder & President, Campus Calm®
Rosie the Riveter makes me feel like I can do anything. The cultural icon representing American women who worked in the factories during World War II, Rosie symbolized strength, determination, service and pride for our moms' and grandmas' generations. Rosie sent energy surges down my spine in my first women's studies class in college. Just like the very real Elizabeth Cady Stanton did, and her BFF Susan B. Anthony, and let us not forget Rosa Parks, Eleanor Roosevelt and all the other rabble-rousers like them. Because of our feminist foremothers, we young women leap along our leadership journeys, nowhere is this more evident than in higher education.
Women have represented about 57 percent of enrollments at American colleges since at least 2000, according to a recent report by the American Council on Education. Researchers there cite several reasons: women tend to have higher grades; men tend to drop out in disproportionate numbers; and female enrollment skews higher among older students, low-income students, and black and Hispanic students.
Although the federal government does not track college students' grades, the trend shows that women tend to earn higher grades. At Harvard, 55 percent of the women graduated with honors, according to a New York Time's Summer 2006 article. At Florida Atlantic University in Boca Raton, a public university, women made up 64 percent of graduates in 2006, and they got 75 percent of the honors degrees and 79 percent of the highest honors, summa cum laude. The latest enrollment study by the Council of Graduate Schools confirmed that American women earned more doctoral degrees than men in 2008-09.
From a cursory glance at the figures, many conclude that women are doing great. While we are making unprecedented strides academically, a closer look at research data of how college women are doing holistically paints a more complicated picture. According to the American College Health Association's Fall 2010 National College Health Assessment, 90 percent of college women reported feeling overwhelmed by all they had to do in the previous 12 months (17 percentage points higher than college men). 48 percent of college women reported feeling things were hopeless at some point in the previous 12 months (11 percentage points higher than men). 52 percent of women reported feeling overwhelming anxiety (17 percentage points higher than men). 84 percent of women reported feeling exhausted, though not from physical activity (17 percentage points higher than men). 46 percent of women rated academics as "traumatic or very difficult to handle" (9.6 percentage points higher than men). 25 percent of women rated sleep difficulties as "traumatic or very difficult to handle" within the last 12 months.
According to a March 2010 study, "Student Leaders and Leadership at Dartmouth College" female student leaders who were surveyed had higher grade point averages (GPAs) than males by 0.23 points, yet considered themselves to be less intelligent than males in self-ratings. Moreover, female leaders rated themselves as being even less ambitious than male leaders by 0.7 points on a five-point scale and yet members of the organizations they lead rate female and male leaders as almost equally ambitious.
Campus Calm believes that young women often feel like they have to work much harder than boys to feel "good enough," which contributes to higher levels of burnout and lower self-confidence. One teenage girl sums it up best: "A lot of girls doubt … just to be sure, we do a little extra." –Quotation from "Smart Girls, Hard-Working Girls But Not Yet Self-Assured Girls: The Limits of Gender Equity Politics"
While women's drive to achieve and academic abilities are up, they are increasingly entering college with low levels of emotional health and overwhelm, all arguable barriers to leadership. According to The American Freshman: National Norms Fall 2010 research study involving more than 200,000 incoming full-time students at four-year colleges, first-year college students' self-ratings of their emotional health dropped to record low levels in 2010. Female students were far less likely to report high levels of emotional health than male students (45.9 percent versus 59.1 percent), a 13.2 percentage-point difference. Women were also more than twice as likely as men to feel frequently "overwhelmed by all I had to do" as high-school seniors, with 18 percent of the men saying they had been frequently overwhelmed, compared with 39 percent of the women.
Accenture's 2010 research study, "Women Leaders and Resilience," found that more than two-thirds (71 percent) of corporate leaders report that resilience is very to extremely important in determining who to retain. We aim to teach confidence and resilience by spreading a dose of "campus calm" to high-achieving college women student leaders nationwide, the next generation of women who will run the world alongside men. We believe that young women are positioned to achieve gender equity by seeking balance and having positive role models in their lives.
Self-development is a higher duty than self-sacrifice.
–Elizabeth Cady Stanton
A little simplification would be the first step toward rational living, I think.
In my personal experience and in speaking with rising women leaders on college campuses across the country, I see that our nation's best and brightest young ladies are so busy building their success portfolios and taking care of others that they're forgetting how to relax and take care of themselves first. Or worse, they know how to relax but feel too guilty to do so; self-care is but a daydream on their increasingly crammed calendars. We carry the legacy of our feminist foremothers in our hearts, and while we're so grateful for the battles they've won for us, we tend to overextend and overachieve, placing undo pressure on ourselves to live up to their legacy, and to feel "good enough" to make our dreams come true upon graduation.
We get into trouble when we confuse our moms' – and the world's - high expectations for us with the belief that we must be perfect in order to carry on the torch. Striving for perfection in all facets of our lives is a road map for burnout, not innovation, resilience or leadership. Perfectionism – those feelings of not being 'good enough' no matter how much we try to accomplish, or how 'perfect' we appear on paper, prevents us from taking purposeful risks, adapting to change and gaining self-confidence through trial and error until we reach self-mastery, what resilience is all about. We need to send a collective message to young women that it's essential to prioritize self-care and self-development to reflect, recharge and reclaim health to mature into the resilient women leaders that we need them to become.
Rosie says, "We Can Do It." Yes ladies, we can.
Ever after in faith of ourselves,
Do you resonate with Maria story? If so, you're the person Maria's speaking to in her book Campus Calm University. It's designed to empower you to give up the exhausting pursuit of perfection (whether it's grades or leadership roles), and instead embrace the real steps to success, health, happiness and leadership. Chapters teach you how to be a lifelong learner, infuse your career search with some PG passion, love yourself, embrace risk, focus inward and surround yourself with a network of positive people who can help you reach your goals. And much more too!