I’ve been wanting to do this episode for a loooong time. We covered episodes a long time ago on how children form social groups, and what happens when they exclude each other from play, but I wanted to do an episode exploring this issue related to slightly older girls, and from a cultural perspective. There are a lot of books and articles out there on the concept of mean girls and I wanted to understand more about that. Why are girls ‘mean’ to each other? Is it really a choice they’re making…or is it a choice in response to a complex set of demands that we put on them about what it means to be female in our culture?
I had a really hard time finding anyone who was doing current research on the topic, and I mentioned this on a group coaching call in the Parenting Membership. A member, Caroline, said: “I know someone who can speak to this!”
Caroline had explored girls’ relationships in young adult literature for her master’s thesis, and knew Dr. Marnina Gonick’s work. Caroline introduced us, Dr. Gonick agreed to talk, and we all had a great conversation about girls’ role in our culture, how they are affected by it, and how they are agents of change as well. Dr. Gonick is Canada Research Chair in Gender and also holds a joint appointment in Education and Women’s Studies at Mount St. Vincent University in Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada. She has written two books on the topic of girls’ relationships as well as a whole host of peer-reviewed articles.
Dr. Gonick also introduced me to an expert on boys’ relationships and we’re currently working to schedule an interview in a few weeks so there should be more to come on that soon!