Empowering Girls, Our mission

Raise Your Hand

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Photo from Freepik

When 10-year-old Alice Paul Tapper noticed that girls in her classroom were raising their hands with less confidence than the boys, she decided to do something about it. Working with her mother and the head of her local Girl Scouts chapter, she created the RAISE YOUR HAND patch. Soon after, The New York Times invited Alice to write an op-ed for the newspaper. “I’m 10. And I Want girls to Raise Their Hands” appeared in the October 31, 2017 issue. Alice also published a picture book called Raise Your Hand, which came out in March 2019.

Reading Alice’s op-ed brought back uncomfortable memories of my own school days. I was a good student and I loved learning, but even though I raised my hand over and over, teachers seldom called on me. This pattern continued throughout high school and college, and it didn’t matter whether the teachers were male or female. They all called on male students more frequently than female ones.

As Alice writes, “I also think [girls] were being quiet because the boys already had the teacher’s attention, and they worried they might not be able to get it.” Girls who watch this happening in their classrooms conclude that different rules exist for them. They receive the message that when they finally get called on in the classroom, they must answer the question perfectly.

In their ground-breaking book, Failing at Fairness: How Schools Cheat Our Girls,Myra and David Sadker write “Sitting in the same classrooms, reading the same textbook, listening to the same teacher, boys and girls receive very different educations. Teachers interact with males more frequently, ask them better questions, and give them more precise and helpful feedback. Girls are the majority of our nation’s schoolchildren, yet they are second-class educational citizens.”

“People say girls have to be 90 percent confident before we raise our hands, but boys just raise their hands,” Alice wrote in her op-ed. “I tell girls that we should take the risk and try anyway, just like the boys do. If the answer is wrong, it’s not the end of the world.” That’s only half the problem, though. Teachers need to make sure they call on girls as often as boys. Once when I was observing a 4th-grade classroom, the teacher said, “I notice that my girls aren’t raising their hands much today.” Instead of just calling on the students – mostly boys – who didraise their hands, she identified the problem and encouraged the girls to participate.

An often-repeated phrase, “We cannot succeed when half of us are held back,” applies directly to the problem of girls’ lack of confidence in school. Girls must be heard, valued, and encouraged. Bravo to Alice Paul Tapper for correctly identifying the problem, and for reminding girls to raise their hands.

Empowering Girls

Stronger Than You Know: Ophelia’s Place’s 2019 Conference

Photo on 3-13-19 at 11.41 AM 2On February 15, I attended “Stronger Than You Know,” the annual conference organized by Ophelia’s Place. The theme was “Relationships: With Peers, Self, and Community.” The keynote speaker, Rosalind Wiseman, wrote Queen Bees and Wannabes, the classic book about girls’ puberty, and the inspiration for the movie Mean Girls. The conference took place in Eugene, Oregon.

Adolescence has never been easy, but today’s teen girls face a world filled with new and often dangerous realities. Consider these statistics:

  • 46% more 15-19 year-olds committed suicide in 2015 than in 2007.
  • 56% more teens experienced a major depressive episode in 2015 than 2010.
  • 1 in 4 17-19 year-old-girls has an emotional disorder.
  • 93% of boys and 62% of girls are exposed to porn during early adolescence.
  • Exposure to social media leads teens to compare themselves to unrealistic standards.

Today’s girls have opportunities their grandmothers could hardly have dreamed of. At the same time, they face pressures unknown until just a few years ago: cyber-bullying, sexting, and what Wiseman called “the invisible audience” of social media: always present, always judging, never satisfied.

Many things stood out for me during the conference. In Ophelia’s Place’s Training & Education Coordinator Kyra Kelly’s presentation, “Supporting Youth in Developing Positive Friendships and Romantic Relationships,” she discussed the lack of understanding of the word “consent:” too often, boys do not comprehend – or pretend not to comprehend – its meaning. Oregon Center for Educational Equity’s Elaine L. Rector’s presentation, “Micro-aggressions and Their Impact,” highlighted the effects of the “covert, contemporary sexism pervasive throughout day to day encounters.”

River Aaland, Ophelia’s Place’s After & Out of School Program Director,  conducted the presentation “Promoting Youth Empowerment,” which included several teen girls as part of the panel. The discussion revolved around issues of access, self-esteem, and girls’ hopes and dreams for the future. We also spoke about how adults can help teens, and the presentation’s handout included helpful suggestions such as “Focus on self-compassion (not self-esteem),” “Avoid social comparison,” and “Capitalize on specific skills.”

Ophelia’s Place is a prevention-based nonprofit dedicated to helping youth make healthy life choices through empowerment, education, and support. From Teri Conklin, OP’s Communications Coordinator:

“Ophelia’s Place has learned that it takes a holistic approach to give kids the support they need to feel empowered to make healthy decisions as they grow up, like building healthy relationships. That means if educators, parents, and youth all work from the same messaging and use the same tools, there’s a greater chance our kids will be better prepared to navigate challenges while they grow up. The conference is our way to reach educators and other youth-serving professionals with those tools.”

At Ophelia’s Place, girls can participate in programs such as Girls Empowerment Group, Young, Amazing Women of Color Group (YAWOC), and others such as the after-school drop-in program, therapy and leadership opportunities.
IMG_2686I returned from the conference with a signed copy of Rosalind Wiseman’s Queen Bees and Wannabes,lots of great information, and a renewed commitment to my goal of empowering teen girls. I highly recommend the conference and plan to attend next year.

Ophelia’s Place, a community for girls, has three locations: 1577 Pearl Street Ste. 100, Eugene, OR 97401, 1497 Kalmia Street, Junction City, OR 97448, and P.O. Box 113, Albany, OR 97321.

Empowering Girls

Changing How We Speak to Girls

adult-businesswoman-company-325924“8 Ways to Encourage Girls to use Use Their Voices” by Allison Riley, from Girls on the Run, describes how important it is for adults to change how they speak to girls. I especially liked #1. Ask her, #2. Teach her that her voice matters, and #8. Encourage her to think critically when she sees conflicting messages. 

These are simple ways adults can help girls feel strong, valued, and empowered. Girls need to know that their voices are important, and unfortunately, they receive the opposite message every day. Consider this list from an article by Grace Weaver (also at Girls on the Run:)

Girls like pink.

Girls wear frilly headbands and bows.

Girls assume the role of a damsel in distress, not a superhero.

Girls are not messy.

Girls should be quiet.

Girls play inside with dollhouses, not outside with skateboards.

Girls like to look pretty.

Girls aren’t as tough as boys.

Girls like to read and do crafts.

Girls don’t need wilderness or survival skills.

Girls should be careful that their clothes don’t distract boys.

Girls are vulnerable targets.

When girls have the same opportunities as boys to explore, get messy, and experiment, they grow stronger and more confident. They become more self-reliant and daring. They are far more likely to think for themselves instead of accepting someone else’s opinion. These are the skills they need to succeed in life.

 

Announcements, Empowering Girls, Women in Film

Visionaries: Female Filmmakers 1910-Today

Screen Shot 2019-01-28 at 2.50.36 PMI’m happy to share Visionaries: Female Filmmakers 1910-Today. Girls’ Voices Matter staff member Kacie Clark researched and wrote this compelling and interesting account of eight important women in film. From Alice Guy Lache, born in 1873, who started her own film company in 1910, to Best Picture winner, director Katherine Bigelow (The Hurt Locker, Zero Dark Thirty) these women have broken barriers and created some of the most memorable work in film today. We hope this document will inspire you!

Empowering Girls, Our mission

OUR STORY, MISSION, VALUES, AND COMMUNITY

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Girls’ Voices Matter is the daughter of Media Poetry Studio, an arts-based educational program for teen girls that started in 2014. Here’s the story of how Media Poetry Studio came to be:

In the Spring of 2014, California Bay Area Poets Laureate Erica Goss, Jennifer Swanton Brown and David Perez had an epiphany while discussing their plans as community poets. We wanted to reach out to young people, to involve them in creative writing, and make opportunities for them in the literary arts. Over several discussions, we developed a two-week summer camp for teen girls, one where they learned how to make short films based on their own poems. We called it Media Poetry Studio, and our students’ work can be viewed here.

In 2017, Erica moved to Eugene, Oregon, and began Digital Storytelling of the Pacific Northwest, which changed its name to Girls’ Voices Matter in 2018. We offer a summer camp and workshops throughout the school year. Our first Fall Workshop for Teen Girls begins on Tuesday, September 25, 2018.

Our mission: We empower young women to find their voices though filmmaking and literary art.

Our values and community focus: We value each student’s unique voice, talents, and abilities. Our workshop is a safe, supportive community for girls to experiment with creative writing and technology. We give students the opportunity to tell their stories and show us what they think and feel.

You can sign your daughter up here.

Please contact Erica Goss, Director, if you have any questions.

Empowering Girls

If You Give a Girl a Camera

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I’ve always loved the book If You Give a Mouse a Cookie, which I read to my children when they were little. In the book, a boy gives a delicious chocolate chip cookie to a mouse. The mouse loves the cookie, which leads him to ask for things to go with it: a glass of milk, a straw to drink the milk with, a mirror to see if he has a milk moustache, etc. Soon the mouse is asking for a story, a nap, and eventually, another cookie.

When I discovered video poetry in 2012, I was just like the mouse: my curiosity led me in a number of directions. First I watched hundreds of videos. Soon I reached out to video artists, interviewing them for my column The Third Form. A year or so later, I began to experiment with making my own video poems, and soon after, ran Media Poetry Studio, a summer camp dedicated to teaching the art to teen girls. Now that I live in Eugene, Oregon, I’ve created Girls Voices Matter, a summer program dedicated to teaching teen girls how to make their own short videos.

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My “cookie” was a chance encounter at a writers’ conference in the winter of 2012. I wandered into a conference titled “Poetry Video in the Shadow of Music Video – Performance, Document, and Film.” When I entered Boulevard Room A at the Chicago Hilton and took a seat at the back of the room, I had no idea that my life would change. Now video-making is an important and growing part of my artistic practice.

 

If you give a girl a camera, what will she do next? Imagine the possibilities!

 

Enrollment is open.

Warmly,

Erica

 

Erica Goss

Founder and Director

Digital Storytelling of the Pacific Northwest

Empowering Girls

A Supportive Community For Girls

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At Digital Storytelling of the Pacific Northwest, we believe in girls: their potential, their intelligence, and their creativity. We believe that giving a girl the tools to express herself is one of the most powerful things anyone can do.

Girls aged 11-17 are particularly vulnerable. Messages leap out at them everywhere, telling them how to look, how to think, and how to be. At Digital Storytelling of the Pacific Northwest, we give the tools of image-making to girls, allowing them to tell us how they think and feel. This act of expression empowers girls in so many ways.

As an educator, I’ve worked with teen girls for many years. I’ve listened to them tell me about their lives, their stresses, the expectations placed on them, and their plans for the future. The passion of these girls to make the world a better place never ceases to impress me.

Our goal is to foster a supportive community for girls. We listen to them. We help them access their creativity. These are our future teachers, doctors, poets, and filmmakers. What are their dreams, hopes, fears and ambitions? How do they see the world?

Our mission is to help girls answer those questions for themselves.

Enrollment is open.

Warmly,

Erica

 

Erica Goss

Founder and Director

Digital Storytelling of the Pacific Northwest

Empowering Girls, Women in Film

Reel Grrls of Seattle!

A Pacific Northwest original.

From the website:

Reel Grrls equips and empowers girls ages 11 to 21 to engage critically and creatively with digital media to create positive social change. Reel Grrls also provides media literacy training to help grrls, gender non-conforming youth, and male allies from diverse communities interpret and respond to the flood of gendered and racialized images and messages young people encounter in our media saturated world.

Empowering Girls

Happy International Women’s Day!

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On International Women’s Day, I celebrate one of my personal heroines: Dr. Jane Goodall, who at the age of 83, travels 300 days a year to spread the word about conservation.

She sees hope in the “tremendous energy, enthusiasm and commitment of young people around the world. As they find out about the environmental and social problems that are now part of their heritage, they want to right the wrongs. Of course they do — they have a vested interest in this, for it will be their world tomorrow. They will be moving into leadership positions, into the workforce, becoming parents themselves. Young people, when informed and empowered, when they realize that what they do truly makes a difference, can indeed change the world. We should never underestimate the power of determined young people.”