One could make an informed case that these are the toughest of times for young girls—there have always been challenges—but some of the data and trends are incredibly compelling.
Statistically speaking we know that Green Bay has one of the highest teen birth rates in the state—approximately 80% of teen parents have grown up in poverty and 70% will not have a high school diploma by the time they are 30 years old—daughters born into these circumstances are 22% more likely to do the same so this is a cyclical phenomenon and a double whammy.
Research tells us that College is twice as valuable for women from disadvantaged backgrounds as it is for those from more privileged circumstances—as of 2011 only 26% of women in Brown County held Bachelor’s Degrees or higher—half as many Hispanic and African-American women in Wisconsin obtain 4-year degrees as compared to their white counterparts.
To supplement known research, we solicited input from a cohort of female Club members which produced some eyebrow raising results:
- minority females in particular felt it became ‘socially unacceptable’ to excel academically by the time they reached middle school—those who did were often picked on and/or ostracized
- girlfriends are increasingly expected to ‘pick up the tab’ by their male counterparts—females have additional pressure to make money and advance their careers to take care of their partners
- some girls face a cultural expectation to drop out of leadership and career/college readiness programs to become domestic caretakers instead
- girls are under even great pressure to be sexualized on a variety of fronts and prostitution is a forced reality for some
- online bullying is at an all-time high from female peers, and boys are posting sexually explicit images of them—leading to an increase in depression symptomology and even suicidal tendencies
The good news—in an otherwise very bleak world for many girls—is that we know a lot about what works but it takes resources. Club has been effectively serving girls with gender-specific and age-appropriate programs for a long time—we are now thrilled to join Girls Scouts as co-recipients of the first ever Women’s Fund supported Imagine the Future impact grant—some details have been released but there is a lot more planning to be done.
Thanks to all who supported this Imagine the Future impact grant initiative—we understand and embrace the gravity of our challenge—stay tuned!