Research reveals the issues girls face
The Supergirl Dilemma is a national research study that looks at stereotypes regarding girls, including expectations of academic performance, physical appearance, personal conduct, and roles and responsibilities within the family and other social environments. The findings reveal a set of core truths:
- Girls experience chronic pressure to dress a certain way
- They experience pressure to please "everyone"
- Popularity and success are strongly associated with being thin
- Sexuality creates stress
- The onset of these pressures occurs at younger and younger ages
Research performed by our national office points out other key data that describe the personal dangers girls face:
- 78% of girls are unhappy with their bodies by age 17
- 3 in 10 girls will become pregnant before the age of 20
- 1 in 4 girls will not finish high school
- 1 in 5 girls will be a victim of childhood sexual abuse
The message of the research is this: Girls face gender-specific problems that require solutions crafted specifically for them.
Unlocked STEM potential: Overcoming stereotypes
There is evidence that historically, education environments have created the expectation that girls will not excel in STEM-related fields. The gender-based expectations are that girls will either not be interested in these areas, or will be unable to perform within them. Yet research among corporations indicates that:
- 60% of job openings require basic STEM literacy, and 42% require advanced STEM skills
- 28% of corporations say that at least half of their new entry-level hires lack basic STEM literacy
- In the next 5 years, nearly 60% of the U.S. workforce will require basic STEM literacy
There are many reasons why girls have been under-represented in STEM-related fields, but the mission of Girls Inc. of Holyoke is to enable girls to discover for themselves where their talents are, and how to develop them.
How Girls Inc. of Holyoke helps
Girls Inc. of Holyoke is addressing the challenges we've described by offering people, programming, and an environment that empowers girls to succeed.
- Our people are trained staff and engaged volunteers who build powerful mentoring relationships
- The research-based programming is hands-on, minds-on, and meets the needs of today's girls, by providing information and knowledge that helps girls lead healthy lives; succeed academically; and develop life skills to prepare for adulthood
- Our environment is girls-only, and is physically and emotionally safe. There is a strong sense of shared sisterhood, support, high expectations, and respect
Girls' Bill of Rights
Girls have rights
The national Girls Inc. organization created a Girls Bill of Rights as a first step toward defining the rights that belong to all girls.
- Girls have the right to be themselves and to resist gender stereotypes
- Girls have the right to express themselves with originality and enthusiasm
- Girls have the right to take risks, to strive freely, and to take pride in success
- Girls have the right to accept and appreciate their bodies
- Girls have the right to have confidence in themselves and to be safe in the world
- Girls have the right to prepare for interesting work and economic independence
Why girls learn better in an all-girl environment
Research from the National Coalition of Girls Schools has shown that when girls apply their energy in an all-girl environment, learning is easier.
Without the complexities and distractions of coed environments, girls relax. They focus. They start to create relationships based on trust, respect, and shared interests and goals. Advanced learning grows. Studies have also demonstrated the following:
- Girls think, interact, display leadership, and make decisions differently than boys
- In coed classroom settings, girls are called upon less, receive less feedback, and display lower self esteem than boys
- Girls at single-sex schools are more likely to take non-traditional courses in subjects that run against gender stereotypes, such as advanced math and physics
- When gender distractions are absent, girls become more competitive, accept leadership roles, and spend more time on schoolwork and personal interests
In short, learning in an all-girl environment better prepares girls for the realities of the world they live in, where personal achievement and confidence drive individual success.