"Girl" Mental Models
Derek Cabrera, PhD
Derek Cabrera (PhD, Cornell) is an internationally known systems scientist and serves on the faculty of Cornell University where he teaches systems thinking, systems leadership, and systems mapping and is Program Director for the Graduate Certification Program in Systems Thinking, Modeling, and Leadership (STML). He is a senior scientist at Cabrera Research Lab. He’s authored 8 books including, Systems Thinking Made Simple and Flock Not Clock.
More posts by Derek Cabrera, PhD
Understanding the idea of and being aware of one's mental models is
part and parcel (
whole) of understanding systems thinking. Here's a great video from BirdBox that explains the importance of mental models.
Recently, we heard in the news of two women, 1st Lt. Shaye Haver, 25, and Capt. Kristen Griest, 26, both West Point graduates (we're proud to say that West Point teaches systems thinking to its cadets) who were the first women to graduate from the difficult Ranger School. Way to change societal mental models of what women can do!
Each of these mental models of "girls" (read "females") requires us to make numerous
relationships, to include different
parts that make up the
whole, and to look at girls from different
- What is the
relationshipbetween girls and physical and mental strength? Or between girls and hair length? Girls and guns? Girls and camo? Girls and toughness?
- If we were to write a rich description of a girl and label the
parts, what would the
partsbe? How would the
partschange depending on which mental model we used?
perspectivesdoes Barbie entail that inform our mental models of girls? What about Lammily? Our female Rangers?
- What's the
distinctionbetween Barbie and Lammily? Between Lammily and Army Rangers?
Becoming an Army Ranger is tough. Perhaps the success of Shaye Haver and Kristen Griest will pave the way for young girls to become Navy SEALs, too.
On that topic, Kristin Beck challenges many of our most dearly held
distinctions of what it means to be a Navy SEAL and a decorated war hero.
Beck served for two decades as a Navy Seal. Shortly after retiring she came out as transgender, leading some in the media speculating whether the US military might take a new
perspective on transgendered individuals serving in our armed forces.