Read this. Please. It's something that so many people miss. It's long, so open it in a new tab and save it for later if you don't have time to read it now.

Personally, I can think of a number of incidents where I was shamed for being smart. In boarding school, I was the only 8th grader in a 10th grade math class, and I was definitely singled out and talked about; not once did I feel like I was accepted in that class. They accepted me more the following year, but then when I came back to public school in the US, I was the only 10th grader in a senior math class, and it happened all over again. I wished for the earth to open up and swallow me when my beloved little sister made the really sweet gesture of bringing me "Happy Sweet 16!" balloons in the classroom on my birthday, once again drawing attention to how much younger I was than the other students. The comments from the seniors when I regularly scored the highest grade on every test cut very deep.

I also think back to a high school end-of-year academic awards ceremony, when I was presented with award after award after award. My parents were so proud, and at first I was thrilled and honored. Then I started hearing my classmates muttering when I went back up on stage again. Then I heard classmates' PARENTS muttering, and finally, even the TEACHERS presenting the awards were making comments as they announced I'd won yet another award. I was mortified. When I look back on it, that might have been when I stopped caring at all about whether I would make valedictorian. I know it changed a lot about how much I was willing to put myself in positions where I might stand out.

To this day, I continue to be a lot more shy about speaking up when I know the answer or have a good idea than I was before then. My current manager has done a lot to help me start getting over that, but it's a long hard road to overcome the societal shaming that had such an effect on me as a child. I was blessed to have parents who were proud of me regardless - but there was little they could do about the long-lasting social effects I experienced from being the smart girl.

I think it's something that really needs to change, but I think what +Amy Sundberg has to say here is really key: while it's critical to stop the negative reactions to smart women showing their intelligence in typically accepted ways, it's also important to recognize intelligence in women who aren't following those accepted ways of displaying intelligence.
I know quite a few exceptionally intelligent women, but many of them are not recognized as such even among their friends, because they don't present in the same way that similarly intelligent men do. Men often engage in certain social displays, such talking authoritatively and with the assumption they'll be listened to about their subjects (not to mention other subjects), or holding jobs in business or STEM fields with high prestige. Some of the women I know do this -- but many don't, and this short article by +Amy Sundberg digs in to why and what that means.

One thing I'd call out is jobs. We tend to be blind to this because we treat a certain way of doing things as the default: if these women are so intelligent, why aren't they in ambitious, high-powered jobs? Turn this thought around for a moment: being in an ambitious, high-powered job requires intelligence, but it also requires that you make being in this job your top priority. These jobs require tremendous sacrifice in all aspects of your life, shape your personality, keep you working 16-hour days. You have to value this sort of job a lot for that to be worth it. Men in the US are raised to value it just this much -- but that's an unusual exception, not the rule. Even if you go over to France, you find a very different attitude towards the importance of one's work in life; 100-hour work weeks are almost unheard-of there. The fact is, if you're very intelligent and can figure out a way to do things you love and not work 100 hours a week, unless you personally happen to really want to do that you would be an idiot to do it.

And that's one thing I see very commonly among my most intelligent women friends. They could get one of these jobs, but not being pressured externally to do so in the same way that men are, they instead work in areas that they're passionate about. Because those areas often aren't big corporate jobs, they therefore don't have that big metaphorical "hey, I'm a smart, important person!" ID card hanging around their necks -- and people don't take them seriously.

Especially, I have noticed, people stupider than they are. Noticing that someone is smarter than you are, especially when they're quiet about it, is actually kind of tricky.
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