Through the Education Lens

Are Girls Really Alright?

CJ Westerberg, December 11, 2011 12:23 PM


"Now in this country, girls outpace boys in test scores, high school and college enrollment and grad rates, and leadership positions in high school, and YET. . . 
it all depends on WHAT you are measuring."
5:00 minute mark

"These AMAZING girls become known for more troubling distinctions. . .
. . . such as . . . the in-ability to manage conflict or failure, to advocate for themselves . . "

-Rachel Simmons, best-selling author, educator
 "Morale of this Story? 
Embarrass Your Daughters"

- 12:00 mark, Rachel Simmons
Video Below

- by C. J. Westerberg

Parents of girls may know of, have heard about, or have witnessed an "alarming loss of self-esteem by girls as they approach adolescence."  But we may not realize how long-term this "dip" really is . . . . and how media coverage may inadvertently be distorting its prevalence and impact.

The Daily Riff picks up the conversation where we left off last week with an uplifting video post about, "Three Young Women Wow the Crowd at TEDx,"
which prompted host of tweets (thanks everyone!), such as from @WillRich45, whose writings we admire:

"Yeah, these girls are amazing. Really."

Confident, accomplished at such a young age, will these women continue on their course?  Do they represent our new generation of a "girl power" culture often bandied about by the press (intermixed with "mean girl" headlines)? 

It was one other tweet - actually one phrase - that made me reconsider an earlier decision
to feature only one of the videos from the recent TEDx Women Conference (too many good ones).  It was the phrase, "At least the girls" from a @MikeConnick tweet:

Watching this video makes you think the kids just might be alright.
At least the girls. Impressive young scientists.

These girls are not only exceptional, but are they the beginning of the "exceptions?"  If you
 look at the dearth of women (speakers) at the TEDMED conference (which directly ties to science); or more broadly, the excruciating low percentage of women in corporate board
rooms, tech and Silicon Valley, and the financial industry. Congress?  Same story.

My point - or maybe it's really a question - do girls really "rock?"  Is it really changing, or is
it a catchy phrase that's used to delude us from some overarching realities?  Are we confusing the outward short-term achievements of test scores, awards, soccer games, and statistics headlined in the press vs. the internal realities of our girls and their long-term "outcomes?"

This is where the other TEDx video "enters", this one featuring Rachel Simmons, with an
intro by middle schooler Claire Sannini, who starts the video with a 5-minute narrative about girl-bullying by exclusion (which is another post unto itself) but for this conversation - go straight to the 5:00 mark.

"Yes, you be smart, but just make sure you don't make anyone
feel uncomfortable with your intelligence."

We would all agree we need healthy, empowered girls AND boys, and this is not a x vs. y chromosome debate.  One without the other doesn't make a good life.  Pretty basic stuff, such as as if mom and dad are okay, the kids tend to be okay.  Not a guarantee, but a better shot, for sure.

Let us know what you think. 
Plenty of education conversation in the last six minutes. 
Love the final few minutes, "embarrass your daughter" - know this story well.

Video below: Go to 5:00 mark if time-crunched  

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