Are we subtly telling young women they are not good enough?

Hilary Fannin: There is something insidious about being told at 17 you have not made the grade

'The burden of perfectionism is obviously not confined to any one school or city.' Photograph: iStock

'The burden of perfectionism is obviously not confined to any one school or city.' Photograph: iStock

I was recently invited to talk to a group of parents and teachers at a well-known convent school in Dublin. It was nothing major – they were having a meeting anyway, and I was rolled on at the end as a kind of psychological drain-clearer to blast talk of financial statements and all-weather pitches out of the room, shoot the breeze, and generally delay a bunch of decent people who were probably dying to get home to their Horlicks.

I was surprised to be asked. As I said to my hosts, I haven’t exactly seen my finest hours on polished convent-school corridors and, to be blunt, which I was with the committee that invited me, I’m about the last person I’d ask to address a bunch of hardworking professionals with high stakes in the education game. 

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