Alpha Girls: The New American Girl

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Alpha Girls: Understanding the New American Girl and How She Is Changing the World
By Dan Kindlon, PhD

Following on the heels of his groundbreaking bestseller Raising Cain: Protecting the Emotional Life of Boys comes another important work on adolescents and gender from author Dan Kindlon. In Alpha Girls: Understanding the New American Girl and How She Is Changing the World, Kindlon takes on the American girl, using startling new evidence based on newly commissioned studies and hundreds of interviews with young girls throughout the country.In his new book, Kindlon turns on its head the traditional views held by many social scientists that adolescent girls are psychologically disadvantaged compared to their male peers. Instead, Kindlon finds in his research that American girls are by and large outstripping the boys who are their contemporaries in academic terms and in self-esteem levels, and in general increasingly appear to be better equipped to succeed.In particular, Kindlon identifies what he terms “alpha girls,” girls who are especially accomplished: They are often academically superior, athletically gifted and driven, socially engaged, and often have a strongly defined sense of self and of where they would like their lives to take them.This important new book — a must-read for parents of girls and boys alike as well as for all those who interact with them — will forever change the perceptions of those who read and took to heart the precepts of such previous seminal books as Mary Pipher’s Reviving Ophelia. What is it that sets apart these “alpha girls”? Kindlon finds that a strong father-daughter relationship is one of the keys, among many others.But finally, what Kindlon offers is an insightful, illuminating portrait of the new American girl. 

Dan Kindlon is a clinical and research psychologist specializing in behavioral problems of children and adolescents. He teaches child psychology at Harvard University, where he has been a faculty member since 1985. He is the author of numerous scientific journal articles and three books including the 1999 New York Times best-selling Raising Cain: Protecting the Emotional Life of Boys (co-authored with Michael Thompson). Currently, Kindlon lectures widely to groups of parents, educators, and mental health professionals. He lives outside Boston. For more information, please visit

socialization of women, psychology of women, self-esteem

One Reply to “Alpha Girls: The New American Girl”

  1. I spent the holidays with my Dr. brother, his Dr. wife, my Wall Street broker brother, and his wife and their two 13-year old daughters and a 16 year old son. Throughout Christmas Eve and Christmas Day meals and activities, the teenagers did not lift a finger to help with anything. They were waited on like Kings and Queens while my 4 and 6 year old helped set and clear the tables, through wrapping paper away, etc, what ever they were asked to to. Finally, in frustration, I questioned my 2 brothers as to why the girls and boy were not asked to, or required to pitch in and help. My brothers sited the Ophelia Complex and told me to read the books and left it at that, so I did some research and understand the problem and concerns, but what does this have to do with teenagers not having responsiblities or helping out around the house? Are these issues related and if so how??? Is it not good to teach responsibility, a good work ethic and respect any more because of the “Ophelia complex”??? Please let me know! Thanks!!!

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