Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Today's Girls and Academics

It’s been quite a ride on the academic roller coaster I've been strapped to for the last four years. Challenging myself in high school with Honors and AP classes was a path I decided to take even before freshman year started. However, I never knew what a jam-packed intellectual schedule would entail for years to come.
After two years of straight A’s and only a mild amount of struggling, junior year came swiftly. It was already time to study for the SAT for the whole summer, visit colleges, and sign up for AP tests. I became overwhelmed with tons of extracurricular activities and hours of homework and studying, not to mention cross country or track every day after school. I spent each night in my room with my head in a book and a pen in my hand. I had conquered yet another year—by far the worst yet—with just one “B” on my transcript. The summer swept in to save the day.
Or so I thought. More college visits and scholarship searches began, and the days of laying on the beach and swimming in the pool diminished at an exponential rate. September rolled around at maximum speed, bringing the start of senior year and college applications along with it. I experienced a huge reality check when I already had an AP Calculus 2 test on the second day of school, and my AP English summer assignment was not up to par with the teacher. Worry immediately set in as I scrambled to fit everything into my schedule. Homework was pushed to 2 o’clock in the morning because clubs and sports were so time consuming after school.
The lack of sleep crumbled my mental state. I began worrying constantly, having nightmares (in the little time that I did sleep) about specific exams taking place in my bedroom or receiving rejection letters from all of the colleges I applied to. After a dramatic anxiety attack in school, I took a step back. I began thinking, what is the point of all of this?
I mulled over the root cause of all of my anxiety and stress. Obviously, getting into a top-notch university is a dream that doesn't come easy. I then remembered the reason I wanted to try so hard in the first place. As a girl, with much of my motivation coming from Alice Paul and the Women’s Rights movement, becoming successful and influential would be an accomplishment on behalf of all women. I remembered that becoming a prosperous and well-educated woman is something worth every bit of hard work and determination. I hope to create a background for myself in Chemical Engineering (my prospective major) that will motivate younger women in high school to work to achieve their goals as well. Suddenly, a bit of the weight was lifted off of my shoulders.
When I look around at school, I see many intelligent, responsible, and involved young women with bright futures. The first 5 students in the class are actually all girls this year (one of them being me!) However, more young women should be striving for a higher potential for themselves. The first step is a rigorous high school education. In the future, I will use the skills that I have harnessed in school to help bring up other girls to the peak of the mountain with me. 
-Kiersten Campbell

Female Entertainers

There are so many highly known and loved female entertainers. So it was hard for me to pick just three. But these following women are ones that I look up to and have worked hard to achieve their goals.

Ellen Degeneres is an entertainer that I look up to. Ellen is an American stand-up comedian, television host and actress. She has hosted award ceremonies, been in many movies, been a judge on American Idol and is loved around the world. She hosts the talk show The Ellen DeGeneres Show.  The Ellen DeGeneres Show is a talk show where Ellen gives tremendously to others while having a good time and making people laugh. She helps people all over the country in ways you couldn't imagine. In 1997 on the The Oprah Winfrey Show she came out publicly as a lesbian. Ellen is also a CoverGirl and a huge animal lover/rescuer. Degeneres is 55 and still going strong.

Julie Elizabeth Andrews is a women that has entertained many generations. Julie Andrews is a 77 year old English film and stage actress, singer, author, theatre director, and dancer. Julie is a former child actress and singer who appeared on the West End in 1948, and made her Broadway debut in a 1954 production of The Boy Friend. In 2000, she was made a Dame for services to the performing arts by Queen Elizabeth II at Buckingham Palace.She has received many awards such as  of Academy Award, Golden Globe Award, Theatre World Award,Grammy Award, BAFTA, People's Choice Award and Screen Actors Guild honours. In 1957, Julie appeared on television with the main role in Cinderella, which was seen by over 100 million viewers. And she is still the voice in many animated movies.

Alicia Keys is another world renowned iconic entertainer. Alicia Keys is an American singer-songwriter and  actress. She graduated at  16 as the valedictorian of Professional Performing Arts School in New York City. Her debut album with J Records, Songs in A Minor, sold over 12 million copies.  Keys has many achievements and awards to be proud of. Billboard magazine named her the top R&B songs artist of the 2000's decade. She was on VH1’s  list of the 100 Greatest Artists of All Time in 2010. Throughout her career, she has sold over 35 million albums and 30 million singles worldwide and has won numerous awards. Also Alicia will be singing the Star-Spangled Banner at the 2013 Super Bowl this year.
These are just some of the wonderful women that entertain us everyday. All of these women are independentsmart, funny people that we all look up to. It is no question that women can entertain just as well and sometimes even better than men. Women like these give us encouragement and hope that we can achieve greatness just like them
-Christina DeSalvo

Friday, February 1, 2013

Shifting and Imprinting, Making Our Mark in the Business Industry

Hello, this is Daphni again.
I am pleased to announce that the Girl’s Advisory Council blog is up and running again after the holiday break!
Our comeback topic is about business and gender roles in the industry.
Not only should this post provide advice to young women interested in business, but it should also answer questions like the following:
  1. What does the industry really look like?
  2. How are women fairing in the world of business today?

First off, this topic was influenced by a recent event. I am president of a club called Gender Equality Forum at my school. In an attempt to both raise awareness of important issues and to reach out to more students I started a speaker series. I reached out to Ms. Michele Dorris, a remarkable woman who has invested time volunteering with the Alice Paul Institute. She came to my school and informed many of us about the topics I will be covering in this post. Ms. Dorris majored in Chemical Engineering for her undergrad, and to this day she has covered almost every possible position offered in the industry. She currently works in General Management as a Team Captain/Leader for one of America’s top corporations, Campbell’s.
There’s Good News!
In 2010, Forbes reported that the most popular college major for women was Business. This is positive because, in terms of marketability, business ranks high. Additionally, although men continue to dominate in many majors with the highest earning potential, like in engineering and computer science, the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) has estimated that in a matter of years we should see significant increases in the percentage of women majoring in the industries that tend to pay the most. For example, the BLS expects the field of engineering to grow 11% by 2018!!
So, what is the catch?
Competition. Many women want to major in business so the challenge is to make oneself stand out. How?

Michele Dorris brilliantly suggests, “Exploit your strengths; understand your weaknesses and fight them.” In other words, be able to do a little bit of everything, and attempt to not let “weaknesses” be used to your disadvantage.

Additionally, Ms. Michele Dorris recommends getting degrees in something like Chemical Engineering, Computer Science, etc. before going into Business. The more one knows the more marketable one becomes.

On the topic of marketability, if a woman can show she understands the interconnectedness of today’s market economy, her chances of quickly climbing the corporate ladder increases. To do this, a woman might travel, learn a language, research a culture, understand a people’s mannerisms etc. All of this comes in handy.

With the post I would like to leave everyone with one final concept.
When asked about what advice she would give to women in regards to gender roles in the industry, Michelle Dorris said all of the following:
  1. Learn to be tough and assertive
  2.  To earn respect when you have a leadership position, you must give discipline when it’s deserved 
  3.  Utilize your connections; Have mentors
  4. Manage, Organize, Prioritize


-Daphni Sawyer

Friday, December 21, 2012

Happy Holidays!

A couple members of the Girls Advisory Council share their experiences with GAC and API this past year, and what they look forward to in the coming year:

2012 has been an eventful year for GAC. This past year, we had many great opportunities to meet and interact with important and influential people. For example, I interviewed and introduced feminist activist leader Eleanor Smeal at the Equality Awards in April. Inspiring leaders like her are people I hope to continue to meet and learn from in the coming year. Because of everything I've done with GAC, I've learned a lot more of what it mean to be a leader and I've been able to apply that to many areas of my life.

--Sarah Hojsak

I joined GAC this year because I wanted to get a new experience and be more involved. Also because I wanted to learn more about Alice Paul because she is so inspirational and interesting! Thanks to GAC I learned that I can accomplish anything I really want. Alice Paul taught me to standup for what I believe in and that I can make a difference. In 2013 I hope to accomplish keeping my grades up. 

--Christina DeSalvo

The Girls Advisory Council helped out with API's Holiday Open House earlier this month by baking cookies:

Happy Holidays from the Girls Advisory Council!

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Women in Music

Music has been around since the beginning of time. It has the ability to influence us or to change our perception or mood.  Music is different in many cultures and performed many different ways. Women of all different ages have changed music over time.

Loretta Lynn is an American country-music singer-songwriter. Born in 1932, she is now 80 years old. She grew up in a very poor family with her father as a coal miner. Lynn sung all her life and taught herself how to play the guitar. She went on to win dozens of awards from many different institutions, including 4 Grammy Awards , 7 American Music Awards, 8 Broadcast Music Incorporated awards, 12 Academy of Country Music, 8 Country Music Association and 26 fan voted Music City News awards. She was the first woman in Country Music to receive a certified gold album. Known as “The First Lady of Country Music”, shes in more music Halls Of Fame than any other female recording artist. Loretta Lynn changed the face of country music. She was the first female in a male’s genre.

Not only are music performers important but also teachers who inspire and teach music. For instance, Julia Ettie Crane, an American music educator. She was the first person to set up a school, the Crane School of Music, specifically for the training of public school music teachers. Crane is one of the most important figures in the history of American music education. She was inducted into the Music Educators Hall of Fame in 1986.

Another influential woman in music is Ella Fitzgerald.  Ella contributed greatly to jazz music. Also known as the "First Lady of Song" and "Queen of Jazz", she was born April 25, 1917 in Newport News, Virginia and died June 15, 1996. Ella’s mother died of a heart attack when Ella was 15-years-old. Abused by her stepfather, she was taken in by an aunt. On November 21, 1934, at the Apollo Theater in Harlem, New York she made her singing debut at 17-years-old. Fitzgerald later won 13 Grammy awards, the Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts Medal of Honor Award, Presidential Medal of Freedom, National Medal of Art, first Society of Singers Lifetime Achievement Award (named "Ella" in her honor),  and the George and Ira Gershwin Award for Lifetime Musical Achievement. Fitzgerald was a “quiet but ardent” supporter of many non-profit organizations and charities, including the City of Hope Medical Center and the American Heart Association. In 1993, she established the Ella Fitzgerald Charitable Foundation, and it continues to fund programs that carry on Ella's beliefs.

All these women show that you don’t have to be a certain gender to be successful or make a difference. These women revolutionized music in their own ways and gave women the confidence to become artists. That’s the beauty of music; it can come from any person or place.

--Christina DeSalvo

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Women in Sports

The idea of sports has been around since the beginning of human existence, and is still considered one of America’s greatest pastimes. While sports have always been very popular, it appears that sports are geared mainly towards men. 

In 2010, a study conducted by the University of Delaware proved that men’s sports in the Olympic games receive much more media coverage than women’s sports do. In the 2010 Vancouver Winter Olympics, men’s sports received about 23 hours of prime time coverage, while women’s sports did not even receive 13 hours. The University of North Carolina conducted a similar study about the 2004 and 2008 Summer Olympics. According to this study, women’s sports only received 47.9% of airtime devoted to the Olympics in 2004. This percentage only got lower in 2008, with women’s sports receiving only 46.3% of airtime. The Olympics are the world’s largest competition, and with only two genders competing, it only seems fair that each should receive 50% of the total airtime, but that is not even the worst part. The coverage of women’s sports mostly consists of sports that are considered socially acceptable for women to participate in, or sports where the female athletes are scantily clad. Sports like rowing, cycling, and fencing only make up 2% of the coverage of women’s sports in the Olympics.

Another example of sports being marketed more towards men is the Super Bowl, which is the championship game of the National Football League. The Super Bowl is often the most viewed television event of the year, and Super Bowl Sunday has become somewhat of a holiday. Even people who do not usually watch football or do not have a team who made the championship tune in to watch the event. The Super Bowl is also very famous for its commercials. These commercials are proof that these large sporting events are marketed towards men. Most of these Super Bowl commercials are about cars or beer, and contain female models in minimal clothing.

While sports seem to be mainly geared towards men, women have made great strides. During World War II many women had husbands that were away fighting in the war, and they decided to create a Women’s Baseball League, even though a sport like baseball was considered unladylike. Although the Women’s Baseball League is not very well known, these women made great strides for women in sports. Now there is Title IX, which says that women are allowed to participate on male teams.

One woman who worked to prove that women were just as capable to play sports as men was Billie Jean King, a tennis player in the 1970s. Bobby Riggs, another tennis player who was 55 years old at the time, claimed that females were inferior and that he could take on and beat any of the top ranked women in tennis, despite his age. Billie Jean King accepted his challenged, which lead to a highly televised event that was known of Battle of the Sexes. Bobby Riggs was incredibly confident with himself going in, after having easily beaten another of the top ranked women in the world, but this match was different. Billie Jean King beat him by a landslide, the game scores being 6-4, 6-3, 6-3.

Women like Billie Jean King proved that women are just as capable as men in sports. While women’s sports may not receive a lot of media coverage right now, things are slowly getting better. The United States women’s gymnastics team and Missy Franklin are just a few examples of female athletes who have worked incredibly hard and are very well known. Female athletes work equally as hard as male athletes do, and it’s about time that they started to receive the credit they deserve.


Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Women in Literature

If there’s one story that everyone knows, it’s that of Adam and Eve. Adam and Eve were placed on Earth and given the instructions to not eat the fruit from a tree. A serpent tempted Adam and Eve, and Eve gave in and ate an apple from the tree. This story makes women look like weak beings who give in to every temptation. But did you know that as soon as Eve ate the apple, she handed it off to Adam who also took a bite without hesitation? Womankind’s poor portrayal in literature is probably due to the fact that one of Earth’s earliest stories started the fire.

We were taught from childhood that women are weaker than men, and we need saving. Take Rapunzel for example. She is locked in a tower, and a prince climbs up her long hair and saves her. I’m pretty sure she could have made a rope or ladder of some sort in the many years she sat up there. She could have easily saved herself, but instead she waited for Prince Charming to come along and save the day. When I have kids, that’s not the kind of story I want to read to them!

However, as much as the ‘weak girl in need of saving’ storyline is played out, you can also find some inspirational heroines. There are many famous characters, timeless classics, to even the most recent books. Scout Finch, Matilda Wormwood, Jane Eyre, and even Katniss Everdeen, and so many more female characters knew exactly what to do and when to do it in order to stand up for themselves, and be courageous in everything they did. If more of these females could appear in literature, I think more people would realize just how empowering women could really be.

Now let’s discuss the other side of literature, the author. Women authors sometimes sign their books with a pen name. Louisa May Alcott, author of Little Women, wrote under A.M. Barnard, because men authors were taken more seriously than women authors. Sadly, the same thing happens today. J.K. Rowling, author of the worldwide sensation, the Harry Potter series, is a female who wanted to target a mixed gender audience, but feared that her work would not be accepted by male readers, so she used a pen name that made it harder to tell her gender. But even with mysterious pen names and old fashioned mindsets, some of the greatest writers are women.

With so many characters that show girls as housewives, simpletons, and incapable people, sometimes it’s hard to find any female empowerment in literature. But with amazing writers and the feisty female characters we all know and love, we can all feel a little more confident with women’s role in society.

-Julia Ma