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Are Boys More Confident Communicators Than Girls?

Are Boys More Confident Communicators Than Girls?

Typical stereotypes of teenage boys do not include extreme verbal proficiency, but a new study shows that despite the common conception that girls are better communicators, boys may actually be better at expressing themselves, both in school and during social situations.  In a survey of 6,000 eight to 16-year-olds, the British Communication Trust and National Literacy Trust found that “69% of boys said they were ‘very confident’ or ‘confident’ speaking in front of classmates, compared with 57% of girls.”

The other findings are pretty disturbing.  According to the BBC,

“More boys than girls also said they felt confident “saying no to friends” (70% to 62%), “talking to new people” (67% to 62%), “explaining your point of view” (78% to 74%), “asking when you don’t understand something” (75% to 69%) and “talking with teachers (81% to 78%). The only areas where more girls felt more confident were “talking to people online” (85% to 82%) and “listening to other people’s opinions” (93% to 89%).”

It’s good that, as the National Literacy Trust pointed out, stereotypes of inarticulate, mumbling teenage boys seem to be outdated.  As the director said, it’s “heartening to see a new voice-conscious generation of boys emerging.”  But while the gender disparities aren’t enormous, their presence is alarming.  The fact that girls aren’t as comfortable speaking in front of classmates, articulating their thoughts, and asking when they don’t understand, points to the perpetuation of gender stereotypes, where women defer to authority without learning (or feeling that it’s acceptable) to speak up on their own behalf. 

The study authors conducted the survey in an attempt to see whether youth need better communication training, as communication skills become more and more crucial professional skills.  And they’re certainly right that parents and educators need to work with girls to build their confidence, “particularly in situations that are more formal than the everyday conversations that are within their comfort zone.”  This also means providing girls with role models from a young age, and making schools a place where female leadership can thrive.


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8:35AM PDT on Mar 28, 2012


7:30PM PDT on Sep 9, 2011

Thanks for posting.

8:35AM PDT on Jul 10, 2011


5:17AM PDT on May 12, 2011

I can't help but feel kinda sad since I thought at the very least women would have this...but I'm glad.

For each man who stands tall, a woman SHOULD be able to stand tall too, as should it be the other way around.

To see so many people are confident, actually, I'm glad. I always thought people were mostly very shy, and I am one of the people who doesn't have a problem talking in crowds, as long as I have an idea of what I have to say :)

1:31PM PDT on May 8, 2011

As a college professor who regularly teaches large classes of 18-year-olds, I caution that 'feeling confident' about one's capacities and actually being a good communicator are two different things. Girls in actual fact may be more perceptive and more able to articulate their perceptions but not 'feel' that they are doing that well. Boys may 'feel confident' that they are communicating well when in fact they are not. I strongly recommend reading 'Educated in Romance,' a study done now about 20 years ago, which documents the dropping of young women's aspirations over the course of their college years (e.g. going from wanting to be a doctor to wanting to be a nurse), and then I urge you to go out and support the few remaining women's colleges.

10:20AM PDT on May 8, 2011

The article has some validity if all boys are exactly identical and all girls are identical - beyond that it is a waste of time.

Or did we lose individuals somewhere along the line?

2:51AM PDT on May 8, 2011

not really surprising in a male dominated world.

2:32AM PDT on May 8, 2011

That's good to know.

1:52AM PDT on May 8, 2011

Thanks for the article.

3:20PM PDT on May 7, 2011

(1) Why is it "pretty disturbing" if boys feel more comfortable communicating than girls, but just fine if girls feel more comfortable than boys?

(2) Why is it at all surprising that boys feel more comfortable talking to strangers, since we devote so much energy stereotyping girls as more "at-risk" from strangers?

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