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What a girl’s pastimes reveal about her parents

Published: Wednesday, July 29 2015 8:38 p.m. MDT

A Princeton-educated, Harvard-trained sociologist attaches meaning to the after-school activities that elementary-age girls participate in. (Shutterstock) A Princeton-educated, Harvard-trained sociologist attaches meaning to the after-school activities that elementary-age girls participate in. (Shutterstock)

In an article published Wednesday on The Atlantic’s website, sociologist and author Hilary Levey Friedman analyzed three extracurricular activities parents choose for their elementary-age daughters — dance, soccer and chess — in terms of what each undertaking says about parental expectations for a child’s future.

Dance: “Overall the ‘graceful girls’ strategy teaches girls that they need to be feminine, which means being graceful, looking good and being supportive of competitors.”

Soccer: “They are taught to be aggressive in various aspects of their lives, but without an emphasis on appearance, unlike the graceful girls in dance.”

Chess: “Chess-playing girls (are) able to focus on their feminine appearance and be aggressive at the same time, if they so choose. … Many parents actively use chess as a way to teach girls that they should have similar opportunities as boys.”

Friedman’s article for The Atlantic is based on research she conducted for her book “Playing to win: Raising children in a competitive culture” that will be published Aug. 26. She holds a Ph.D. in sociology from Princeton and recently completed a postdoctoral fellowship at Harvard.

Email: jaskar@desnews.com

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