Tuesday May 6 DCYF Girls Focus Group
Wednesday May 28
Alliance for Girls' Annual Conference
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Alliance for Girls goes to the White House
White House Summit on Girls
On Monday, April 28th Alliance for Girls’ Director Emma Mayerson, one of only forty nationally invited leaders, attended the White House Research Conference on Girls, hosted by the White House Council on Women and Girls. The conference was convened to discuss current research, best practices and research needs for girls’ service providers.
In 2009, President Obama signed an Executive Order creating the White House Council on Women and Girls. The purpose of the Council is to ensure that government agencies take into account the needs of women and girls in the policies they draft, the programs they create and the legislation they support. The Council has as its members the head of every federal agency and major White House office, so that everyone shares in the responsibility of supporting girls.
This article is an executive summary of the conference. Full reports presented at the conference are available to Alliance for Girls’ members in the member pages section under “resources.”
Girls in STEM
Dr. Jo Boaler, Professor at the Stanford Graduate School of Education, presented best practices for increasing girls’ participation in math, based on extensive research in the field. Best practices included:
- Inquiry-Based Classrooms. Studies that compare traditional and inquiry based teaching of mathematics find that girls achieve at higher levels and participate more in inquiry classrooms. For boys participation and achievement is the same in both conditions.
- No Timed Testing. Neuroscientists across the country suggest that math should never be associated with speed. However, this is often how it is taught, causing students “math anxiety.” Anxiety blocks the working memory in the brain, which is essential for math. Math anxiety is intensified by limiting stereotypes such as "girls can't do math." Timed testing combined with stereotype threat is especially damaging for girls.
- Growth Mindset. Math is the subject with the most fixed mindset thinking in the US. Fixed mindset is exacerbated by stereotypes and negative feedback. For instance, researchers found that when mothers told their daughters, “I was no good at math,” achievement for these daughters immediately decreased.
Girls in Leadership
Judy Schoenberg, Chief Research Executive for Girl Scouts of the USA, and Dr. Catherine Cushinberry, Director of Research for Girls Inc. presented their research on how to encourage more girls to become leaders. Please find highlights from their presentation below:
- Defining Leadership. While girls define leadership in terms of authority exercised through command and control, their preferred definition and model of leadership implies personal principles, ethical behavior and the ability to effect social change.
- Racial Differences. African-Americans (75%) and Hispanics (70%) are more likely than Asian Americans (65%) and Caucasians (56%) to see themselves as leaders
- Self-Assessment. While 92% of girls believe anyone can acquire the skills of leadership, only 21% believe they currently have most of the key qualities required to be a leader.
- Barriers. One-third of girls who do not want to be leaders attribute their lack of motivation to fear of being laughed at, making people mad at them, coming across as bossy, or not being liked by people.
Girls and Sexuality
Dr. Deborah Tolman presented her research on the effects of society’s rampant hyper-sexualization of girls. Highlights from the presentation included:
- Self-Sexualization. Sexualization was defined as when (1) a person’s value comes only from his or her sexual appeal or behavior, to the exclusion of other characteristics; (2) a person is held to a standard that equates physical attractiveness (narrowly defined) with being sexy; (3) a person is sexually objectified — that is, made into a thing for others’ sexual use, rather than seen as a person with the capacity for independent action and decision making; and/or (4) sexuality is inappropriately imposed upon a person. When a girl self-sexualizes, she is internalizing these messages about sexuality.
- Media. Girls who co-watched media with their mothers were far less likely to self-sexualize than girls who watched media alone or were restricted from watching media.
- Effect on Skills. Self-sexualization has a significant effect on girls motor skills, emotional health and intellectual aptitude. For instance, Dr. Tolman cited a study in which girls were asked to take a math test. One group wore jeans and a sweater, the other a bathing suit. They were seated a desk that faced a mirror. The girls who wore bathing suits scored significantly lower on the test than their counterparts in sweaters. This was not true for boys who underwent the same experiment
- SPARK. Dr. Tolman co-founded SPARK, an online movement for and by girls that includes a take action page and a research blog about girls and sexuality.
Girl Scouts is launching a girls’ research portal with the goal of connecting practitioners to needed and relevant research. For more information please go to http://bit.ly/1ilsEko.
Alliance for Girls’ member Rachel Simmons, founder of the Girls Leadership Institute, moderated a panel with Ana Maria Sanchez, CEO of Girl Scouts USA, Catherine Lhamon, Assistant Secretary for Civil Rights at the US Department of Education, Peggy Orenstein, New York Times bestselling author, and Jeff Wilcox, Vice President of Engineering at Lockheed Martin Corporation. The panel discussed current research needs and best practices including:
- The need for research on girls of color, particularly Asian, Latina and Native American girls
- The need for research regarding the gender spectrum and how that affects girls
- The need to “keep girls young longer” and put forth mitigating messages about girls’ sexuality and definitions of worth.
The conference concluded with closing remarks from Cecilia Munoz, Assistant to the President and Director of the Domestic Policy Council.
Alliance for Girls 2nd Annual Conference
May 28, 2014 12:00-6:00 PM
Schwab Center, 211 Main St, San Francisco 94105
Click here to register!
Alliance for Girls 2nd Annual Conference is less than a month away! Stronger Together is the only Conference in the Bay Area that unites girls’ champions to not only learn from one another but to take action together!
Panel topics will include how to advocate for gender equity in schools, help girls overcome barriers to success in nontraditional fields, and best practices for communicating to, and on behalf of, girls.
Join us for a day of learning, sharing and collaborating across sectors.
Funding for Girls' Services
Date: May 6, 2014
Time: 1:00 PM - 3:00 PM
Location: The "Mint Room," 1390 Market St, San Francisco 94103
Alliance for Girls and DCYF will conduct a focus group exclusively for girls’ services to inform DCYF’s Community Needs Assessment, which guides its funding criteria.
We fought hard for this opportunity to make our voices heard. Now is our chance to impact how hundreds of thousands of dollars are spent for San Francisco youth services, and ensure girls' needs are met. Register now!
We would like to thank everyone who attended the Talking to Girls about Media Messages lunch. Jennifer Berger, Executive Director of About-Face, provided attendees with tools and tips for engaging girls in a discussion about media. Jennifer presented best practices such as teaching girls to reverse engineer media-makers logic and help them think critically about advertisements. Jennifer also taught attendees to let girls lead the conversations. Adults can guide the girls by comparing and contrasting media messages and asking thought provoking, and nonjudgmental, questions.
Members can find notes from our workshops by logging in and clicking here.
If you are interested in having your organization featured in our Organizational Spotlight please contact Ana Aguilar.
Changing Girls' Lives Through Collaboration
One of the primary missions of Alliance for Girls is to facilitate collaboration among members to increase opportunities for girls. At Julia Morgan School for Girls, Head of School Sandra Luna takes this seriously. Working in community is central to Sandra’s personal beliefs and the Julia Morgan School for Girls’ mission. A main goal of Alliance events is to provide a space for that community to spontaneously emerge.
At Alliance for Girls’ first annual conference, Sandra’s associate Melody Ferris sat next to leaders from Equal Rights Advocates and the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. Their conversation led to an interesting and dynamic collaboration.
“Every year our students research how much money a girl loses in her lifetime for being female,” reports Sandra. “The numbers always astonish our girls, but I have never seen them as activated and inspired as they were this year.” The collaboration led to Julia Morgan students making a video with ERA about their research, showcasing it to hundreds of women at the ERA annual luncheon, meeting Lilly Ledbetter and presenting to hundreds of businesswomen at the Equal Employment Opportunities Commission! “Our girls not only learned about wage disparity, but thanks to this collaboration realized their own efficacy as advocates for change. One of the students is now a commissioner on the Hayward Youth Commission.”
By making time for networking, learning and sharing, the Julia Morgan School for Girls changed their students' lives, who are now advocates for change. The Alliance is here to help facilitate these beneficial relationships--so show up at events, talk to people, reach out through the directory and the listserv, and make connections. You never know which conversation will change a girls life.