February 14, 2004

Alphas and Betas

Some while back I read an article about the social dynamics of high school girls. The article divided high school girls into three groups: Alphas, Betas, and Gammas. The Alphas are those who maintain a position in the upper ranks of the school pecking order by constant attention to their position and by continual politicking and infighting. The Gammas are those who fall to the lower ranks because they can't compete socially or politically with the Alphas.

And then there were the Betas. The Betas have two notable features: they don't play the political game and indeed are almost outside the social hierarchy that defines the lives of the Alphas and Gammas--and they are able to do so because they are good at something else. It might be academics, it might be athletics, it might be music, it might be drama. They win a place for themselves because of their obvious competence, and consequently have no need to scrabble for position. They might not be the prettiest girls, and they generally aren't the most popular girls, but they tend to be the most interesting, and the most content.

Now, what I know about feminine social dynamics you could lose in a thimble. But I related this article to my wife (a classic Beta, she got good grades and was in both choir and track & field in high school), and she assured me that it was spot on. And I've paid attention since then, and observed that most of the women I know well and like are also classic Betas.

Now, today was my son David's birthday party. (He's just turned 7.) At the party were many little boys from David's class, and just one little girl, Kayley. And I was fascinated to discover, as I listened to Jane talk to a couple of the other mothers, that the politicking and infighting are already going on among most of the girls in David's first grade class. But David's good friend Kayley isn't one of them. And in addition to being straightforward and friendly, she's apparently also very creative--constantly jumps into art projects on her own initiative. In a word, she's a budding Beta.

Fascinating. First grade, and it's already begun--and David already knows what kind of girl he likes. Bodes well for the future, I think.

Posted by Will Duquette at February 14, 2004 08:44 PM

Deb said:

Oh Will, I cant tell you how you will look back on diapers and crying babies and realize how very easy it all was--especially after you have an adolescent girl or maybe two, in your house.

Tell David to take Chorus or Drama later in middle school and high school. That's where all the babes hang out--as my son discovered to my husband's complete amusement.

Will Duquette said:

Chorus--definitely chorus. (Jane was in chorus :-)