Carol Gilligan claimed that adolescence is a critical stage in a girl’s development because this is the point where she becomes more aware of the realities around her, particularly, concerning human relationships. In addition, adolescence is also the time when a girl develops her principles, ideas, and beliefs on a variety of aspects, which more or less affect her self-esteem.
Gilligan conducted a wide-ranging interview with girls who are 6 to 18 years of age and in her findings, she reported that young girls disclose comprehensive details on human relationships which they base on their experiences and interactions with others (Santrock, 2007, p. 189). Gilligan described this as a girl’s “different voice (Santrock, 2007, p. 189) Furthermore, Gilligan stated that it is during adolescence when girls become more aware that a culture dominated by males does not appreciate their interest and perceptions on intimacy and as a result, they are faced with a dilemma.
Girls must now choose to be either self-sufficient yet appear selfish to others or to be constantly responsive to other people and be seen as selfless. When girls experiences this dilemma, Gilligan claimed, they tend to repress their different voices and lose their self-esteem when giving opinions (Santrock, 2007, p. 189). According to Gilligan, it is important for girls to remain confident and expressive so that it will not affect their transition to adulthood. Despite the potential of Gilligan’s findings, her results have also drawn certain criticisms.
For one, some critics claim that Gilligan exaggerated the issue of gender differences. In addition, some critics also faulted her for her failure to include a comparison group of boys and her failure to provide a statistical analysis (Santrock, 2007, p. 189). In short, most critics argue that Gilligan’s findings were too narrow and incomplete to be used for reference.
Santrock, J. W. (2007). Adolescence 12th edition. McGraw-Hill/Social Sciences/Languages.