Over the last 50 years, women have made great strides for equal rights, but inequality still exists in many situations. For example, women today earn, on average, just 77 cents for every dollar a man earns, which adds up to approximately $11,000 per year (Hello Ladies News). Additionally, in 2009 only 24 percent of CEOs in the US were women and they earned 74.5% as much as male CEOs (International Labour Organization) Women are also underrepresented in politics and make up only 17% of Congress (WCF Foundation). Moreover, 85% of survivors of Intimate Partner Violence are women (AllState Foundation).
For these reasons, and many more, it is important to raise a generation of girls and boys that want to work towards gender equality. As a Big Sister, you can play a big role in helping your Little Sister start thinking about gender equality regardless of her age. Here are some suggestions:
- Education about the struggle that women have faced in the past and still face today. One match activity that could help learn more about women’s history is to take a self-guided tour on the Boston Women’s Heritage Trail. On their website, they have guides for tours in neighborhoods all over Boston. They also have events and exhibits on women’s history.
- Talk to women from different generations about what it means to be a feminist and what the word means to them. You can also discuss with them what changes they have seen for women over the years.
- Read a book together. If your Little Sister is younger, there are several books of fairy tales written from a feminist perspective. One example is Feminist Fairy Tales by Barbara G Walker. If your Little Sister if older, read a book that discusses being a feminist as a young woman. One example is A Little F’ed Up: Why Feminism is Not a Dirty Word by Julie Zeilinger.
- Watch MissRepresentation or find a screening of the movie. For more information, follow them on Facebook or check out their website.
- When watching TV or a movie, discuss the ways that women are portrayed. Are they portrayed with positive characteristics – such as being strong, confident and smart? Or are they portrayed with negative characteristics – such as being manipulative, shallow, and sex objects? You can also talk about music that your Little Sister may listen to. The important thing to point out is that your Little Sister does not have to stop watching shows that portray women in a negative way; however, it is important for her to develop media literacy to critique these portrayals.
- Identify and discuss sheroes, which are female heroes. A shero can be someone that you know personal or a female role model that you look up to. You can start the discussion with sheroes you are already familiar with – such as Michelle Obama, Hilary Clinton, or Beyoncé. You can also look up other sheroes that you are not familiar with – such as Benazir Bhutto, Jane Goodall, or Melnea Cass.
Spread the message with the click of a button! If you are not already connected to Big Sister through Facebook please “Like” us or follow us on Twitter. There are a lot of great resources and posts that you can share.
Begin or continue the conversation! Talk with friends, family, and colleagues about the need for more women to inspire a girl in their community. It’s not about being perfect. It’s about being present.
Share your story! Write about your experience as a Big Sister, your favorite match activity with your Little Sister, or how you supported a friend to become a Big Sister and send them to Nikki White at email@example.com.
Upcoming Big Sister Events
Poetry & Photography Workshop
Saturday, June 1, 10:00am-12:00pm
Learn how to put your thoughts on paper through poetry or a short story with your Little Sister. Bring in 3-5 favorite photos for inspiration! Matches will have an opportunity to share what they’ve written at the end of class. To RSVP contact Jessica Mendenhall at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Saturday, May 18
What better way to show your Little Sister how to reach a goal than with a fun-filled scavenger hunt around downtown Boston! 7-10 year-olds will learn skills to reach for their dreams during Big Sister’s Real Choices Strong Voices – Dream Big! workshop.
Please contact Holly Armstrong at email@example.com to reserve your spot. Don’t miss this wonderful opportunity!
Guest Post by Marketing Intern, Molly Decker
It is essential for girls growing up today to have competent, caring, strong women to look up to and model themselves after. But for those girls interested in taking the business world by storm, we find ourselves with few women running the show, and even fewer who get recognized for their hard work in mainstream media. With all the women we have in our families, in our workplaces and schools, and in our day to day lives who do great things, we have to wonder why the representation of women in high-power positions is still so small. Where are our women leaders?
Facebook is a social media company well-known and loved by just about anyone who’s over 13 and has access to a computer. With all the daily attention Facebook gets simply by being an open tab in most internet browsers for “study breaks”, and with the Facebook movie, The Social Network, showcasing of Mark Zuckerberg’s determination and sheer genius, one wonders why few know that the person right behind Zuckerberg in the chain of command is a strong, independent woman.
The article discusses Sandberg’s book, Lean In, which is due to be published later in 2013. In the book, she writes that while “chauvinism and corporate obstacles” definitely present an issue for women taking charge in the business market, women are too often socially conditioned to settle for what is given and in doing so, effectively hold themselves back.
Sandberg says, “We internalize the negative messages we get throughout our lives, the messages that say it’s wrong to be outspoken, aggressive, more powerful than men. We lower our own expectations of what we can achieve.”
This is something young girls can take to heart instead of the “negative messages”: just like having an emotion is not only for females, having a strong opinion is not only for males. We should use our strong voices and stand by our beliefs when we see changes that need to be made. We must share our ideas in group projects and in meetings. We need to let ourselves be heard.
ForbesWoman did a study in 2012 of America’s top 500 companies, and found that “there are now 20 female CEOs…[and] that paltry number (4%) is actually a record.” Why is that, when we are capable of achieving more? As women, if we continue to dream small or let the negatives messages affect us, we may never see a world where there are just as many women working as CEOs as there are men. So, we can’t be afraid of dreaming big. And more importantly, we must be assertive, and let ourselves turn those dreams into a reality.
What can you do to be more assertive? How can you support your friends when they speak up? What can you do to promote positive change in the way girls approach business? Leave a comment below.