She’s Just a Girl and She’s on Fire
Friday, January 25, 2013 - 3:37pm

Five links that made us think this week:

Ever heard Beyonce’s song that says “Who runs the world? Girls.” Well, Beyonce got it right. According to The Girl Effect campaign, girls are the most powerful force for change on the planet. Studies have shown that investing in the education of young girls leads to a reduction in child marriage and pregnancy, a reduction in poverty and violence, and increases the health and well-being of families (by reducing the risk of HIV). Created by the Nike Foundation and in collaboration with other foundations, The Girl Effect campaign aims to give girls around the world the power they need to contribute to their community and society at large.

Photo courtesy of Carolina Cromeyer

According to the Harvard Business Review, one thing women can and should be doing to get ahead in the workforce is disrupting. Back when we were in school, we were taught certain lessons that would get us to the top of the class. At work, however, those qualities are actually the opposite of what you should be doing to get to the top of the firm. Unlike in school, challenging authority in the workforce is a proven path to success. Improvising, rather than preparing and memorizing, helps us move upward faster in the workforce, unlike in school. And that peer pressure we used to feel is long gone in the business world. You no longer need to act like an airhead if all the cool girls are doing it, but rather, you must find ways to earn respect from your peers, and not just worry about being liked.

Female empowerment is not only needed in communities living in poverty or in the business world, but in our universities as well. In a recent Op-Ed for the LA Times, Lisa L. Martin and Barbara F. Walter present a current yet unexplored opportunity within online education. Several universities across the country provide online courses to people around the globe, including students who live in remote geographical locations with limited access to higher education. Through online education, Martin and Water believe, gender equality and female empowerment can be reached: “Signal to the world that the very best scholars from the best universities include women, and you signal to the world that educating women is important.”

Another problem sits in the United States’ top universities: “low-income, high achieving” students aren’t applying. According to a new study, high school students in the U.S. who live in poverty and are among the top performers in their classrooms don’t apply to any selective colleges. The study discusses the many repercussions this absence of low-income students has over the economy, including a widening income inequality and opportunity gap. By extending and reshaping their recruitment campaigns to reach low-income communities, universities can better encourage these top-performing students who didn’t think they had a chance. More importantly, educating the “low-income, high achieving” can have a profound effect on national economic growth and national productivity.

But one cannot go to college without all those high school memories. The good, the bad, the ugly, all have literally shaped us into who we are today. Psychologists and developmental neuroscientists previously gave much less importance to the young adolescent era than to the early childhood years. Now, however, they are starting to see more and more how much our adolescent years affect our adulthood development. For example, studies have shown, that our attractiveness in high school (height and weight) have a strong correlation to financial earning potential and mental health in our adulthood lives. Our self image during those high school years (even when some of us were still in puberty) affect us for the rest of our lives.

That’s it for this week. Have a great weekend, everyone! Pura Vida.

Category: The Friday Five

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We believe education is the most pressing issue facing our nation. On Pass the Chalk, we'll share our takes on the issues of the day, join the online conversation about education, and tell stories from classrooms, schools, and communities around the nation.

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