Click here to read the original article from The Oregonian on Wednesday, June 15.
Below is the Girls Inc. of NW Oregon response to this article:
We at Girls Incorporated of NW Oregon agree with Albert that there is most definitely a need for “targeted, energetic programs to help kids that have dropped off the radar.” But what we can’t come to terms with is the assertion that girls, across the board, have risen to a level where those services are no longer necessary.
The fact is, while there have been notable improvements for the state of women and girls both locally and nationally, huge disparities between boys and girls and men and women remain. At age seven, an equal number of boys and girls want to grow up to be President. When asked the same question at age 15, a massive gap emerges. Women make up 51% of the United States population, and a mere 17% of Congress. The voices of women are still not being heard. Girls feel limited by the expectations the world has of them. They are frustrated by the mixed messages they receive from parents, teachers, the media, boys, and even from other girls.
Likewise, despite the progress of the women’s movement in recent decades, women today continue to be underrepresented in higher paying careers and leadership roles in business and government. And staggeringly, at the dawn of the 21st century, women are still earning an average of only 76 cents for every dollar men earn. At the rate our country is moving, it could take 500 years for women to achieve parity.
At Girls Inc., we see value in gender-specific programming for both boys and girls. In 2002 Girls Inc. commissioned a Harris Interactive survey of students of both sexes in grades three to 12 on the subject of single-gender communities. Six in 10 young people of both sexes said they have been in single-gender youth programs; and three in ten said they were current members of single-gender groups. The survey clearly found that girls are more likely to speak their minds, try new things, to be listened to and to be leaders in a girl-only environment. Girls were more likely than boys to agree with these advantages of girls-only groups. And girls who currently participated in groups with girls only were the most likely to name these advantages to girls-only group membership.
Regarding the comment made about Intel’s girl-focused activities and events, girls continue to lag behind boys in computer science and physics, comprising only 31% of AP physics test takers and just 16% in computer science AP test takers in 2006. Of college-bound seniors in 2005, young women comprised just 13% of those intending to major in computer science, 15% of those intending to major in engineering, and 40% of those intending to major in math. As a society, we are never going to address the earning disparity between men and women if women continue to choose career paths that lead them away from leadership roles and higher paying jobs.
At Girls Inc. our job is to empower girls, giving them the voices, confidence, encouragement and pride they need if we ever hope to achieve an equitable society. Our girl-focused, researched and proven programming addressing everything from media and economic literacy, to women in sports and science and math plays a vital role.
Yes, women’s rights have improved by leaps and bounds in the past few decades, but women’s voices are still not being heard equally. Our society does not support a girl’s ability to rise to her highest potential. Albert is wrong, we still have a long way to go.