The making of the modern girl part 3: Students at Redborne Upper School , Bedfordshire, talk to Anna Moore

How do they get what they want?
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Katie Mellor, 16

Taking 11 GCSEs. She plans to be a barrister. Her mother is a teacher, and her father a dentist.

"Girls are more likely to get what they want than boys, but we have different ways of going about it. A lot of it probably depends on your mum. My mum is never aggressive, she's always polite but she's very good at getting people to co-operate. Boys are more bolshy and up-front about things, but they go in with all guns blazing, and they can put people's backs up. Girls will always find some `other way'. I get what I want by hard work, setting my mind to a task, and trying every way around a problem. We can flutter our eyelashes and put on a little voice if we're really stuck. It's probably not a fair tactic because the boys can't do that, but it usually works. Girls can also play on people's emotions. We may not fight physically but we can be very nasty. If a boy hits you, then it's over in an instant, but girls can say things that hurt a lot more. I can do a really nasty put down if someone tries to patronise me.

Recently I did `work experience' at a management training company, and I had to wear smart clothes - blazers, smart trousers or long skirts and make-up. It made me feel a lot more powerful and confident. If you stride in looking as if you believe in yourself, then people will sit up and notice. They sent me on an assertiveness training course with one other girl and two blokes - both of whom were older than us - and they were so scared! We did some role playing where one of them had to try and persuade me to babysit for him. All I said was, `I'd really like to but I'm afraid I can't.' And he immediately gave up! Those courses may have been more helpful for the generation of women that were stuck in the home, but I'm not sure how much use they'll be to us in the future."

Sally Briggs, 18

Taking three A-levels and intends to read English at university. She has a younger sister and her parents are both teachers.

"Being loud is my way of getting what I want - when I've been up against boys, I've definitely shouted the loudest - but you have to get the volume just right. If you're too bolshy, you'll just annoy people. I suppose it does sound quite `masculine'. In public situations, girls can usually take more liberties because we know that we'll get away with more. No one's likely to turn around and beat up a girl who's pushed things a bit far.

If I want to feel confident and in control, I`ll wear trousers, flat shoes and no make-up. I think high heels, tight skirts and make-up make you look as if you're trying too hard. That look has a bimbo image now.

The need for girls to make an extra effort in school just to get noticed is dying off. It may have been like that for my mum but I've definitely never known anything like that. If we don't know something, we'll make sure that we find it out. Some boys won't ask questions - they're scared of seeming `uncool'.

I let boyfriends push me around at first - they decide where we go and what we do. I worry that they'll go off me if I don't let them get what they want. But once I know them better and feel more confident, I slowly being to stick up for myself. Eventually, I take over.

There's this scene in the film Trainspotting where a horrible, sleazy man walks up to a woman in a club with two drinks, one for him and one for her. He offers her one. She downs it. Then she takes his and downs that too. Then she gets up and walks away! I'd love to be like that - a lot of my friends would. But we'd still worry about hurting the guy's feelings and we'd think about all the money he spent on the drinks."

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