Managing the Mean Girl: California's Incomplete State Policy on Social Aggression

Adolescent girl. Photo by mickey van der stap.

Throughout middle school and high school, I heard many girls complain that they only had male friends because girls were too catty, backstabbing, or “bitchy.” I did not want to believe that girls could be inherently more prone to this kind of aggression than boys, which led me to my first research question: “why do girls engage in behaviors like gossiping or exclusion? Are they innate to girls?” It turned out that researchers had already come to a consensus on this topic: girls turn to these indirect or “social” forms of aggression because our society and its gender roles do not allow girls to use healthier, more direct forms of aggression. As there was already a consensus, I needed to find a new direction for my research. After discussing it with Sarah Pittock, my PWR instructor, I decided to look into how this research had been translated into school policy in the state of California. I talked to many of the librarians in the Cubberley Education Library and in Green Library and received so much help and advice on finding policy documents and research on education policies. One of the most important things I learned from this experience was how helpful it can be to reach out to Stanford’s amazing librarians, talk with writing tutors at Hume, and have friends read and comment on my paper. Towards the end of my writing process, I worked on making each of the sections of my paper flow from one to the other, and making sure that I gave convincing answers to questions readers might have, like “Why is this important? What are the consequences?

Read Kirstin's entire Booth Prize-Winning Essay Here

More about the Boothe Prize

Photo of Kirstin Wagner, '15.
Kirstin Wagner, '15

My name is Kirstin Wagner and I am in the class of 2015. After studying abroad in Paris during winter quarter this year, I decided to declare International Relations with a minor in Education. I would love to end up working with girls’ and women’s education in an international context.