The next generation of women leaders is already over-committed.

And they’re only 17.

The New York Times on Sunday profiled Esther Mobley, a senior at a top-notch public school in Newton, Mass., in a front-page story on high-achieving young women and the daily pressure they’re under to achieve well-rounded success. Mobley and her classmates are told to "be themselves" while they aim for academic, artistic and athletic perfection. Additionally, as one student puts it, they must also be "hot" — "effortlessly hot."

One positive aspect that jumped out at us was the ease with which the male students accepted and respected their smart female peers — which has not always been the case.

"I hate it when girls dumb themselves down," Gabe Gladstone, the co-captain of mock trial, was saying one morning to the other captain, Cameron Ferrey.

Cameron said he felt the same way.

One of Esther’s close friends is Dan Catomeris, a school theater star. "One of the most attractive things about Esther is how smart she is," said Dan, whose mother is a professor at Harvard Business School.

Their own high-achieving mothers have likely had some influence on their attitudes.

See the new blog What’s Good for Girls for more analysis and related resources, including Courtney Martin’s new book, "Perfect Girls, Starving Daughters," and "The Supergirl Dilemma: Girls Grapple with the Mounting Pressure of Expectations," a study released last year by Girls, Inc.

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  • Jane Finalborgo April 6, 2007 at 6:05 pm

    Yes, I agree about Esther living in a privileged environment where she is already programmed for success. But at least she is thinking about something beyond herself and her own needs. We know she will be well taken care of. The goal is to get her and others like her to think of ways to help those who are not — even it it’s a very small step, like wondering if SAT prep courses are fair.

  • Linda April 5, 2007 at 4:46 pm

    I agree with you, Jane, about the Ivy Leagues. I think one of the best things we can instill in high school students is the idea that college is what you make it. A name is just a name.
    But, to be honest, I found Esther’s stance on the SAT prep class rather naive. The reason she’s going to do so much better on the SAT than other, poorer kids is because she has been getting a much better education in her well-off district — which reflects a much more systemic problem than simply accessibility to SAT prep courses.

  • Jane Finalborgo April 3, 2007 at 4:50 pm

    This is a good topic…so much to think about. Is anyone else bothered that Esther might be hurt because she is so committed to her beliefs that she won’t take an SAT prep course because it’s unfair to others who can’t afford it? I hate the thought that the very girls with the most moral backbone are the ones who might not benefit in this super competitive atmosphere. But then, I sometimes think the Ivy Leagues are overrated because I know so many accomplished women who didn’t attend a “name” school.