Photo by Danny Gregory.
Today I’ll talk about why we decided to make our camp just for girls.
Media Poetry Studio is designed as a female-only camp. We want the girls in our camp to be center stage, without gender-based competition. According to The Girls Middle School in Palo Alto, “girls routinely are called upon less, receive less feedback, and display lower self-esteem than boys. (However) girls at single-sex schools are more likely to take non-traditional courses in subjects that run against gender stereotypes. With fewer gender distractions, girls learn to be more competitive and accept leadership roles.”
Other studies show that girls tend to shy away from technology in middle school, just as boys are gaining mastery: “many girls’ interest in the fields of science, technology, engineering and math wanes as they get older because of socialization and lack of exposure and access.”
I know this is true, not just from my own experience as a schoolgirl, but from the hundreds of hours I’ve spent volunteering in my children’s classrooms. Boys will often blurt out an answer, correct or not, while girls remain silent. Too often, girls simply shut down and stop participating.
In their ground-breaking book, Failing at Fairness: How Schools Cheat Our Girls (Scribner 1995) Myra and David Sadker write “Sitting in the same classrooms, reading the same textbook, listening to the same teacher, boys and girls receive very different educations. Teachers interact with males more frequently, ask them better questions, and give them more precise and helpful feedback. Girls are the majority of our nation’s schoolchildren, yet they are second-class educational citizens.” Not much has changed in twenty years.
This lack of participation extends beyond school to the workforce: women are still vastly underrepresented in technology-related fields. Recent revelations from companies such as Google, Apple and Facebook, confirm that these companies employ far more men than women – about 70% men to 30% women .
As I wrote earlier, this is a grave and discouraging problem. What in the world can a couple of poets do about it? Here’s our answer: Media Poetry Studio where girls can learn to make their own short films from their own poetry. Working with the best computer and camera equipment we can afford, we’ll empower our students to show us how they see the world.
If you’d like help us achieve our dream for teen girls, check out our IndieGoGo campaign.