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See Jane Win

I’ve had See Jane Win by Dr. Sylvia Rimm on my bookshelf for well over a year. Having just finished blogging about Amy Chua’s Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother, I was curious to see if this Rimm report of how 1,000 girls became successful women validated any of Chua’s extreme parenting methods.

While the initial chapters repeat a lot of the same concepts addressed in previous books blogged about on PBB, I must admit I found a couple interesting statistics and anecdotes. However, make no mistake. See Jane Win reads like a dry report, which quite frankly I might have abandoned if I wasn’t blogging about it.

Rimm starts the book with twenty research findings. I found the following to be the most compelling:

  • · “Your daughters can be successful at public schools…79 percent (of the women in the study) were educated in public schools; 16 percent attended parochial schools, and 5 percent went to independent schools.” These statistics pretty must mirror the general population, indicating the opportunity to succeed is available to all who work hard.
  • · “Although 83 percent of our successful women had mothers who were full-time homemakers when the women were preschoolers, many had careers or returned to school after their children’s preschool years.” This research supports theories that the more one-on-one time a child gets from birth to age five is crucial; however, it also makes the case that “if you achieve, they see you as competent and are more likely to believe that they, too, can be competent.”

Then, Rimm addresses achievement. “Most women of past generations could only marry the American dream; they didn’t dare to have such high expectations for themselves.” Therefore, parents’ high expectations were a major factor in the success of the women, according to Rimm. See Jane Win accurately addresses the complexity of the how much pressure is too much pressure problem by sharing anecdotes of both negative and positive experiences. Much to the reader’s dismay, the report provides no “answers.”

Rimm also explains, “Some women in all career areas heard the message to ‘follow your dream’ from either their mothers or fathers.” Naturally, despite talent and dedication, dreams didn’t always play out as planned; therefore, “there was a sense of disappointment and emptiness even though they now have what would be described by most people as successful careers.”

As a result, Rimm suggests you encourage your child with caution. “Generally, when the women were encouraged by their parents to follow their dreams and those dreams were realistic – that is, to be doctors, attorneys, or educators – they felt fulfilled and were pleased with their parents’ messages.” That’s not to say that when women were unable to fulfill their dreams – perhaps something extremely specific like find a cure for cancer – they blamed their parents. Instead, Rimm explains, “Some women wished their parents could have known more and guided them better.”

See Jane Win argues the most powerful message parents can convey is the importance of education. “Because in our society education is tied to greater economic opportunity, and the salaries of women in almost every profession are coming closer to those of men in the same careers, your daughters’ futures are directly related to their success in school.” Therefore, Rimm believes while it’s important to instill a love of learning in your child the understanding that “getting good grades is a good habit that will open doors for children” is essential. After all, the majority of these successful women were taught “education meant freedom,” which is good parenting whether your raising a girl or a boy.

 
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Victoria Winterhalter

Victoria Winterhalter is a mother, teacher, reader, and writer on the education and environment beats for RFM. She has been with RFM since its founding in 2009 and has contributed photos and written numerous articles on education, parenting, and family travel.

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