FIRST THOUGHT: On Honoring Your Strengths
Many of us have a tendency to downplay our strengths. Like how Lindsay Lohan’s character in Mean Girls pretended to be bad at math to get a boy’s attention. It’s something we may later regret, but we often have our reasons for making such decisions. Maybe you don’t want your co-worker to feel bad or your boss to think you’re a know-it-all.
But if you ask any successful businesswoman or changemaker whether she hides what she’s good at depending on the situation, I bet her response will be, “No way!” Today, wear your strengths with pride.
WOMEN IN NUMBERS: 25 Points
There’s a worldwide trend showing that boys are lagging behind girls when it comes to literacy skills. Results from the Programme for International Student Assessment, an exam given to 15-year-olds in 65 countries, show American girls outperformed boys in reading by 25 points. In Finland, girls outscored the boys by 55 points.
More than half of girls surveyed reported that reading is fun, while 41 percent of boys think it’s boring. Researchers explain that whether you’ve got boys or girls, if you’re a parent, one thing is clear: Kids need positive role models for reading.
Today, take some time to read your kids’ favorite book with them.
WOMAN TO WATCH: Carolyn Danckaert, Co-founder of A Mighty Girl
Some of the most memorable books we read in our lifetimes are during childhood. From Amelia Bedelia to Judy Bloom, well-written children’s books make a lasting impact, the words and ideas becoming part of kids’ identities. That’s why Carolyn Danckaert understands the importance of identifying books for girls that depict smart, confident female characters.
With that thought in mind, she created A Mighty Girl, the world’s biggest online collection of books, toys, movies and music to help parents and teachers raise smart, confident and courageous girls. A Mighty Girl highlights titles and toys that offer positive messages about girls and honor their diverse capabilities. There’s none of that damsel-in-distress nonsense. Books highlighted by A Mighty Girl include girls in lead-character roles who go on their own adventures. And featured toys range from hands-on science kits to superhero costumes and even archery sets.
A Mighty Girl’s lists of fiction publications include books featuring girls as presidents, baseball stars and even ninja warriors. The website also spotlights books about issues important to young women, like development and health, and bully prevention, as well as books about historical and social issues, like the Civil Rights movement.
Carolyn attributes much of the site’s success to crowdsourcing, as parents, teachers and librarians often suggest empowering recommendations. However, when it comes to children’s books, she believes we’re a long way from gender equity in terms of the types of characters portrayed as the leaders, the doers and the adventurers.
Carolyn and her husband have four young nieces, which has naturally given them great insight into products marketed to girls. She has a background in advocacy and public policy, and has always taken an interest in women’s issues, so, it’s no wonder she’s been able to pour such enlightened passion into A Mighty Girl.
A few years ago, Carolyn started a petition that garnered more than 4,000 supporters to urge toy stores to cease employing gender-segregated store sections. Typically, the toys about science and adventure are housed in the boys’ section, while arts and crafts are in the girls’ section. Though there’s still much work to be done in terms of changing the way stereotypical gender-based toys are marketed to children, Carolyn’s petition opened quite a few eyes to the practice.
For Carolyn, this isn’t just about entertainment. By providing girls with strong role models—both fictional and real—we give them a chance to believe they can be whoever they want. That’s what I call a mighty fine plan!
QUITE THE QUOTE
Former first lady Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis once said:
“There are many little ways to enlarge your child’s world. Love of books is the best of all.”
That’s all for now. Be sure to share this so more women can have a voice! Thanks for getting ready with us.