Categorized as: Leadership

Please Support SheHeroes as They Seek Funds to Launch a New Web Series for Girls!

Given the recent debacle that we discussed at length on the Her Next Chapter Facebook page about the Barbie book (where she wants to be a computer engineer but needs boys to help her code and deal with viruses,) don’t we want better for our girls? I’m going to tell you about a way that you can help subvert these kinds of messages about girls.

Physicist and astronaut Sally Ride once said: “Young girls need to see role models in whatever careers they may choose, just so they can picture themselves doing those jobs someday. You can’t be what you can’t see.” This is precisely the philosophy of SheHeroes, a non-profit organization focused on inspiring and empowering girls, ages 8-14, to pursue non-traditional careers. Originally founded by three women from MIT, SheHeroes has an all-female team that produces web videos profiling women who are powerful leaders in their respective fields.

These educational videos give girls a wealth of role models across diverse industries and backgrounds, proving that they too can become whatever they dream. Sheheroes is launching an Indiegogo campaign to raise funds to capture the stories of six accomplished women in Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM).

In Her Next Chapter and for many other publications, I’ve written extensively about today’s media and marketing culture for girls, and how they are subjected to unhealthy, hyper-sexualized and stereotyped “role models.” According to the Geena Davis Institute on Gender in Media, in most G-rated films female characters are shown pursuing  romance. Further, media and toy marketing campaigns strongly influence girls’ career goals by reinforcing gender stereotypes that severely limit their choices as women. Maria Montessori is often quoted as saying “play is the work of the child,” and I couldn’t agree more. Career development begins in childhood, but children often limit their career goals to careers stratified by gender, and this problem is only getting worse.

In 2008, an Associated Press review of accredited forensic science programs in the United States found that about 75 percent of graduates were women, an increase of about 64 percent from 2000.  Among other factors, academics call this the “CSI effect,” noting that popular prime-time TV shows like CSI, Bones and NCIS that prominently feature women in forensic science have greatly influenced the growing number of women entering these fields.

A study conducted by researchers, Julie L. Quimby and Angela M. DeSantis in 2006 noted that, “exposure to role models via videos increases students’ likelihood of considering non-traditional careers.” Marie Wilson, the founding president of the White House Project, is credited with originally saying, “You can’t be what you can’t see,” the quote that Sally Ride understood so well. In the world of girl empowerment, this has morphed into “if she can see it, she can be it.” We need to show girls what they can be, because if we don’t, the corporations and marketers will gladly do it for us.

SheHeroes has produced 12 videos and has directly reached nearly 50,000 girls online. SheHeroes has profiled the likes of Polly Baca, the first Latina to hold a State House and State Senate seat, and Emmy Award winning Carol Jenkins, one of the nations’ first African-American journalists and TV anchors.

In an initial test study conducted by SheHeroes, 80 third graders noted that they felt being a CEO was a man’s job. But after watching just one SheHeroes’ video, a clear majority of students felt all careers were for both men and women. By presenting profiles of successful and inspirational women, SheHeroes not only alters the way girls view themselves and their potential, but also the way boys view girls and women.

Today SheHeroes will launch an Indiegogo campaign to raise funds to create six videos of women who excel in #STEM careers. The videos, all produced in-house, are a vital and accessible online resources for students, parents and educators. Most importantly, SheHeroes’ online content provides young girls with diverse role models, showing them that they can excel in any career of their choice.

Please consider supporting my colleagues at SheHeroes in their effort to help girls see that they can do anything boys can do. If you’re frustrated with the disempowering “role models” out there for girls, here is something proactive you can do as an individual to help change that.

Please click here to help! Thank you so much for supporting the work of my colleagues. Together, we really can make a difference!



Using Mother-Daughter Book Clubs to Raise Girls to Be Leaders, Allies and Agents of Change

One of the most fulfilling and most memorable undertakings of my parenting journey was the formation of a mother-daughter book club, a collaboration with my then-eight-year-old daughter and four other mother-daughter pairs that would last for six years. We all discussed the need to counteract stereotyped and sexualized girl culture with positive messages about who girls and women really are and what they can do.

As mothers, we wanted to work together as a village to develop open communication with our daughters early on, so our girls would be listening (and talking to us) when all the marketing and media messaging aimed at girls needed to be deconstructed and kept at bay. We knew it was becoming increasingly difficult to raise happy, healthy girls with good self-esteem in our increasingly shallow, beauty-obsessed society. We felt we could do a better job at this together than separately.

I remember noticing how few books and movies for children had female protagonists, and of the ones that did, how few of those portrayed women and girls in strong, positive roles. As mothers, we wanted more for our daughters than stories that revolved around the adventures of boys and men as the default, leaving the stories of girls and women marginalized as chick lit and chick flicks.

In a culture that is not always healthy for today’s girls, and that can make the job of raising girls feel intimidating or isolating, it is crucial for mothers to join together to guide daughters in ways that are uplifting and enjoyable. The teaching of media literacy is critical, and is accomplished very successfully within clubs that use carefully chosen female-centric books and media as side doors into crucial conversations about growing up female.

While mother-daughter book clubs can do a lot for girls, I can’t stress enough how much these clubs can also do for mothers. Raising kids today is hard, and raising girls comes with a unique set of challenges for mothers. This learning from other trusted and respected mothers is perhaps one of the least discussed but most important benefits to a mother-daughter book club today.

I have huge concerns about the parenting culture we have now, especially for mothers. Mothers are under constant media bombardment. You cannot open a magazine or browse articles online or tune in to FaceBook without reading some version of how mothers are doing it wrong. Or can’t have it all. Or should have it all. Or are not following the “right” method for potty training or breastfeeding or violin instruction or fill-in-the-blank.  And none of them, it seems, can regain their figures quickly enough after giving birth, like celebrities do. It is endless. Mothers need to seek less validation for their parenting decisions, to judge each other less, and to find more ways of forming genuine connections with other women who sincerely want to be their allies, not their “mompetitors.”

Mother-daughter book clubs are a way to sidestep some of these distractions and instead listen closely to other chosen mothers that you trust. They can provide a measured amount of communal upbringing that is sorely lacking in today’s world, and are a fantastic way of building community among mothers as well as daughters. Mother-daughter book clubs are not only a way for girls to find their inner voices, but for mothers to do the same.

Together, from one generation to the next, we can change the world—one girl at a time, one book at a time, one voice at a time.

Welcome to the village!


Recommended Books on Important Topics for Girls age 8+

Stereotypes and Sexism

  • Hannah, Divided – Adele Griffin Age – 8+
  • The True Confessions of Charlotte Doyle – Avi Age – 10+

Sexualization (books that show girls who are not sexualized)

  • The Future of Us – Jay Asher and Carolyn Macker Age -12+
  • The Penderwicks (and sequels) – Jeanne Birdsall Age – 8+

Beauty and Body Image

  • Beauty Queens – Libba Bray Age – 12+
  • Real Beauty – Therese Kauchak Age – 8+

Girl Bullying/Allies

  • Stargirl – Jerry Spinelli Age – 12+
  • The Secret Language of Girls – Frances O’Roark Dowell Age – 8+

Healthy Relationships

  • A Northern Light – Jennifer Donnelly Age – 12+
  • Turtle in Paradise – Jennifer L. Holm Age – 8+

LGBTQ and Gender Nonconformance

  • Alanna – Tamora Pierce Age – 9+
  • Silhouette of a Sparrow – Molly Beth Griffin Age – 12+

Female Leadership

  • My Life with the Chimpanzees – Jane Goodall Age – 8+
  • The Evolution of Calpurnia Tate – Jacqueline Kelly Age – 9+

Girls and Women Around the World

  • The Breadwinner series – Deborah Ellis Age – 10+
  • Tua and the Elephant – RP Harris Age – 8+


Recommended Movies on Important Topics for Girls age 8+

Stereotypes and Sexism

  • Bend It Like Beckham – PG-13
  • Brave – PG


  • Little House on the Prairie Series – G
  • Memoirs of a Geisha – PG-13

Beauty and Body Image

  • Good Hair – NR
  • Hairspray: The Musical – PG

Girl Bullying

  • A League of Their Own – PG
  • Mean Girls – PG-13

Healthy Relationships

  • Ella Enchanted – PG
  • Speak – PG-13

LGBTQ and Gender Nonconformance

  • Tomboy –NR
  • Wish Me Away NR

Female Leadership

  • Miss Representation – NR
  • Whale Rider – PG-13

Girls and Women Around the World

  • Life, Above All – PG-13
  • Rabbit-Proof Fence – PG


Lori Day, M.Ed., Ed.S. is an educational psychologist, consultant and parenting coach with Lori Day Consulting in Newburyport, MA. She is the author of Her Next Chapter: How Mother-Daughter Book Clubs Can Help Girls Navigate Malicious Media, Risky Relationships, Girl Gossip, and So Much More. She also blogs for the Huffington Post and a variety of other sites on parenting, education, gender, pop culture and media. Day’s 22-year-old daughter, Charlotte Kugler, is a contributing author. She is a student at Mount Holyoke College, graduating on May 18, 2014.

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