What is learned helplessness and do you think it is more in young women and why?Learned helplessness in normal young women who have not faced extreme hardships in life?

Expert Answers
Ashley Kannan eNotes educator| Certified Educator

This is a fairly powerful topic.  I would probably suggest that it might not be entirely accurate from a scientific point of view to associated learned helplessness with an entire gender.  There could be some exploration on the topic, but to associate it with a group of people could be challenging to prove because of the need to justify each example fitting the norm.  Those young women who might exhibit tendencies of learned helplessness might be doing so because of the images of subjugation that could be around them.  This could be in relation to a variety of elements, such as domestic or economic conditions.  In the end, the pattern of learned helplessness is one that is appropriated with direct contact or sensation of an experience where futility is understood.  This means that learned helplessness is present when there are images of victimization present in the direct environment of the person in question.

besure77 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Learned helplessness is when an individual has learned to depend on others when he or she needs help, even when they can in reality do the task themselves.

I think if you are trying to associate learned helplessness with young women it could be related the attitude that society has towards young women. For example, a father has a teenage daughter and a teenage son. Generally speaking, the son may be allowed more freedom to do as he chooses because of the general notion that boys can take better care of themselves than girls can. The father may look at his "little girl" and feel that she needs protection. This may be creating learned helplessness.

pohnpei397 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

You ask if this is more common in young women.  I think that it is more common in young women, but I think that it is not necessarily connected to gender.  Instead, I think that it is connected to power relations.

I think that learned helplessness is connected to having little or no power.  In many cultures, this applies to women.  However, it can also apply to racial or ethnic minorities and to people who do not have very much money.

I believe that people who have little power get used to acting in helpless ways.  In some cases, it becomes pathological.

mkcapen1 | Student

As a person who teaches students with special educational needs, I see learned helplessness all the time.  Learned helplessness occurs when an individual has seen himself fail at something or perform poorly for so long that he eventually believes he is powerless to do something.

I have no identified this in young females at a higher rate than in the past.  When I was a young woman it was common for women to not know how to do something and turn certain aspects over to men, such as repairing a car.

Females in generations when I was a teenager were much more domicile than they are today.  I am 55.  Society expected them to do poorly in math and science. (My mother was a scientist, so that blew it away for me).

Today's focus has been to bring everyone up to par educationally and there was a focused movement of teaching females to progress in science and math.

I no longer see it as a gender issue but instead I see it as an issue that is common among students who have experienced failure when they had tried and not succeeded so they believe they can not do things and have learned to be helpless.