Souderton Area School District PAGE Chapter
We were lucky to have Mary Martha Whitworth speak at our monthly meeting on April 24th. Mary Martha is a teacher trainer who focuses on issues of gender equality in education. In addition to helping us identify books for and about girls, she spoke about issues facing females in their education. Specifically, it is important for girls to feel competent in their academic capabilities and be willing to take the risk of the classroom to ensure their continued achievement, particularly in math and science. Girls show a much sharper decline in self-esteem in the middle school years than boys. This is exacerbated when they have a high proportion of their self worth tied up in appearance (as the media encourages them to do!).
A few things we can do in the home to help our girls' self esteem include:
- Read books for parents of girls as suggested by Mary Martha Whitwork (click here for book list)
- Provide reading material where girls and women are portrayed as self sufficient at an equal level with boys and men in the stories.
- Find women role models (pediatrician, dentist, etc. where possible).
- The National Women's History Project has many great examples of successful women. Visit them at http://www.nwhp.org/.
- Expect girls to solve their own problems at the same level we would expect from boys - don't "rescue" them.
- Girls should have more "Lego" type toys to encourage creativity and self esteem.
- Involve girls in outdoor activities and sports.
- Give girls early computer experience.
- When there is an opportunity to choose a book or project subject, encourage girls to choose a woman who interests them.
- Complement girls often on things NOT related to their appearance (how they perform a task, interact with others, solve a problem).