In the book School Girls by Peggy Orenstein, the focus is on young adolescent girls in middle school, and the effects that the “Hidden Curriculum” and other elements have on their self esteem. “Hidden Curriculum teaches girls to value silence and compliance.” (pg.35) The hidden curriculum is a theory that boys often get more attention than girls in the classroom, and that even if it is negative attention, the girls learn that they are not as important, and they eventually give up hope, and stop speaking out in class. “Educators reward assertiveness and aggression over docility, the very behavior that is prized in girls becomes and obstacle to their success.”(p.36).
This means that while girls are acting the way a teacher would like them to, the boys that are more aggressive get the attention, and the girls lose their self-esteem. “Charles L. Richman found that high achieving white girls in particular are subject to unrealistic standards of success. When they fall short, they overgeneralized failures with an intense self-punitiveness; by late adolescence, their self-esteem has spiraled downward.” (Pg.38).
The focus of sexual harassment is a big one as well. Girls are not taught about sex and contraceptives, and therefore know nothing about their sexual selves. “We consciously infuse girls with a sense of shame.” (p.57) If we do not teach girls about their bodies, and teach them to be assertive, than sexual harassment will occur. “As much as girls repress desire, they embrace desirability.” (p.62) .