What I try to teach my girls

As a fifth grade teacher, I am often shocked at the disparity in maturity between ten year-old boys and girls.

I've known many fifth grade girls who could effectively enter the workforce if they so desired. 

I've known many fifth grade boys who still can't get their food from plate to mouth without a sizable portion landing on their shirt. 

I shouldn't be surprised. Science has repeatedly shown that girls mature faster than boys. In fact, researchers have recently discovered that female brains mature up to ten years earlier than boy's brains.

As a result, I am equally shocked at boys' ability to somehow catch up to girls. Despite the enormous lead that girls enjoy in fifth grade, boys will somehow catch up to girls along the way, and as a result, we end up with a world ruled by men.

In the House, there are currently 362 men and 76 women.
In the Senate, there are 83 men and 17 women.
In the White House, we have had 45 men as President and 0 women. 

I have long thought that our country would be run more effectively if we flipped these numbers.

I know that many factors contribute to boys ability to catch up and surpass women when it comes to positions of power.

An entrenched, often religiously supported patriarchy.
Draconian laws relating to maternity leave and childcare.
Unchecked sexism in the workplace.

But I also think Amal Clooney is right when she suggests that women must stand together rather than competing and criticizing one another.

It's a message I send to my fifth grade girls every year:

Never fight over a boy. Boys are a dime a dozen, and most of them are worthless in terms of boyfriend potential until they're at least 24 years-old. 

Never insult another girl's physical appearance. You need to stand together. You can't allow the length of a length of a hemline, the height of a heel, or the size of a waistline get in the way of your much needed solidarity.

Compete with boys rather than chasing after them. Seek to push them off the mountain at every turn. The boys worth your time and attention will be the ones who respect your willingness to compete and desire for greatness.  

I don't know if these messages leave a lasting mark on the dozen or so girls in my class every year, but I hope so. They have so much potential and possibility when they are ten years old. They are ready to take over the world at this age.

I also know that hormones and peer pressure can be powerful forces, too.

But I dream of a day when this potential and possibility is fully realized, and women can take assume their rightful place at the mantle of leadership and steer our country along a more rationale, compassionate, and sensible path.   

I think Amal Clooney's message is a good one. Not the answer, for sure, but a small step in the right direction.