Tag Archives: Liz Peters

Getting the Facts on Single-Sex Spaces

By Liz Peters, Editorial Intern
Photo © Kara Delahunt, 2012

Isn’t it funny that one of the most popular places where girls and boys are definitely separate is the bathroom?? Truth is, it’s a space where girls really open up with each other. When girls are placed in single-sex spaces, whether in bathrooms, schools, or extra-curricular activities, they are more likely to explore themselves as individuals and gain comfort in their own skin; girls in single-sex spaces are more likely to take healthy risks and to try new things that they might not in a coed environment, such as taking up leadership roles and using tools new to them.  In sum, girls have different experiences in girls-only spaces than they would if boys were around.

Did you know that girls who are enrolled in single-sex schools are more likely than girls at coed schools to join a competitive sports team, including ones that society tends to associate with boys such as football and basketball. Not only is it healthy to keep an active lifestyle, but girls who join competitive sports are more apt to take up leadership roles and avoid teen pregnancy. The world we live in needs more female leaders! President, anyone?

Young women attending girls-only schools also open a variety of academic windows—for example, they are more likely to speak up in class and to feel competent in and to study subjects such as computer science and technology. The National Coalition of Girls’ Schools, an organization committed to the powerful potential of all-girls’ schools, reports that 36 percent of graduates from all-girls schools consider themselves strongly skilled in computers, compared to 26 percent of their peers at coed schools. In addition, 48 percent of these graduates consider themselves “great” at math, while only 37 percent of girls in coed schools say the same. Bringing new minds to the math and science industries helps everyone by allowing for development in ways never before considered. Girls can bring a fresh perspective to science and society, hopefully changing it for the better.

Teen Voices is a single-sex space as well—no boys allowed! High school girls from different Boston neighborhoods and backgrounds have the chance to work with college-age young women on articles for our online and print magazine, and to explore what it’s like to be a teen today. Girls are able to share their thoughts and feelings in a safe place, which often leads to in-depth discussions that they might not otherwise have at all. Overall, girls who spend time in environments such as that of Teen Voices tend to feel more comfortable to be themselves.

“It’s a great place to go where you know you’ll never be judged,” said Talia, a teen in the editorial mentoring program. “It’s easier to be open [without boys around] and everyone you talk to is going through the same stuff.”

Adriana and Wendy, also in the program, like the break from an environment influenced by boys. “You get enough of being around [boys] at school,” said Adriana. “There’s less drama [in an all-girls’ space], because [the drama] usually circulates around boys, and [here], we’re free to say what we want,” Wendy said.   

There are many famous women who are vocal about what they gained from attending a single-sex school:  Hilary Clinton, Gabby Giffords, and Madeleine Albright, to name a few. Journalist Katie Couric, politician and former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, and Elizabeth Cady Stanton, a leader of the women’s movement, were educated at all-girls schools as well.

A single-sex space allows a girl to explore new possibilities, learn about herself and others in a less pressured environment, and apply those discoveries into action! Maybe a girl will learn she likes and excels in science, and end up curing cancer. A young woman might join a basketball team and go on to play in the Olympics. In the right space, anything is possible!

For more information on girls’ schools, visit the National Coalition for Girls’ Schools at www.ncgs.org or the National Association for Single Sex Public Education at: http://www.singlesexschools.org/.

Lace Up Your Sneakers and Get on the Path to Healthy Living

By Liz Peters, Editorial Intern

What do you usually do after school? Homework?  An extra-curricular activity? Maybe watch TV, play video games and log onto Facebook? You are not alone; many teens do the same.  But there are several effects of these behaviors, one being that when you’re doing these things, you’re not moving. So what? Well, without physical activity you begin to destroy your body, and if that doesn’t affect you now, it certainly will later.

Obesity puts you at risk of diabetes, heart attacks, depression and more. Although these conditions are more likely to affect obese people in their adulthood, children also face direct consequences of being obese.  For example, regardless of race and gender, obese children are more likely to be involved in bullying, which can result in anxiety, loneliness, and depression.

More than 23 million children and teens are obese or overweight in America today.  A recent study by Eric Finkelstein a health economist at Duke University, predicts that by 2030, more than 42 percent of the adult population will be obese.  Let’s work to lose that statistic!

Less physical activity, combined with increased portion sizes and a consequent increase in caloric intake, has resulted in spiked childhood obesity.  When you’re still growing and developing, it is normal for your body to gain a few pounds. What is not ‘normal’ is when the body takes in too many calories and produces too much fat, without any sort of compensation.  That’s right, you gotta eat less and exercise more to be healthy! Not only can exercise ward off sickness and keep you at a healthy weight, but it pumps good-mood hormones throughout your body, so you feel better about who you are and what you’re doing.

To combat the issue of portion sizes and increase focus on nutrition, the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) has recently introduced a new ‘food guidance system’ to encourage healthy eating.  Say goodbye to the food pyramid…here comes the plate. MyPlate is designed by ‘cutting’ a plate into fifths, each a different size for a particular food group: (1) fruits and (2) veggies (which should take up HALF of your plate!), (3) proteins, (4) dairy (got milk?), and (5) grains. The goal of using a circle rather than the pyramid is to simulate meal building; by relating food to what it’s eaten off of, it’s easier to map out a meal.

Women and girls around the country are joining the movement and working to make changes and get moving. Michelle Obama, a major leading lady, has taken a stand against the rise in obesity in America. In creating the “Let’s Move!” campaign, Michelle is working to solve the problem of childhood obesity so that the experience of growing up can be healthier, and youthful dreams can be pursued. Goals of the program include better access to healthier foods in schools, better access to healthy food for families (including families on food stamps), and helping youth become more physically active.

Here are some suggestions on how to advance a healthier lifestyle for yourself and for others:

  1. Snacks are a great place to incorporate healthy foods into your diet. Try bringing baked chips to school instead of fried. Celery sticks too boring? Pair them with low-fat ranch dressing or peanut butter.
  2. Walk where you can. If you’re able, leave for school a bit earlier than usual and make your way by foot. Your body will thank you for it and so will your brain! (There’s new research evidence that walking to school helps stimulate brain function). Be sure to keep your bones strong through routine exercise, milk drinking, and nut eating.
  3. Join the Youth Advisory Board, and inspire healthy living! The Alliance for a Healthier Generation, an organization committed to ending childhood obesity by 2015 through collaboration with food, fitness, and technology industries, is looking for applicants to join their Advisory Board and take action to stop childhood obesity.  Participants within this youth-led group are required to implement healthy changes within their communities and schools through educating their peers and neighbors.  To see if you’re qualified to apply (between the ages of 8 and 17, live in the U.S., etc.), check out the Healthier Generation website.
  4. If you live in the Boston area, you can get involved in the work that Sociedad Latina is doing to improve the quality of life in Roxbury, including addressing obesity concerns through the “We are What We Eat” Campaign. Girls in the campaign are working to bring salad bars and healthy, cultural foods into their school cafeterias.
  5. Get your parents involved; they can help change things with and for you. The USDA has initiated a Fresh Food and Vegetable Program (FFVP) to replace the junk food in schools with healthy snacks, resulting in positive health effects. There are still several schools that are not participating in this program. Have your parents check out your school and if they are not complying, petition for the FFVP at MomsRising.org so more cafeterias can transform what they’re serving, and who they’re serving it to.

So, get up, get out, and get moving girls! Start by checking out the Women’s Sports Foundation’s GoGirlGo! curriculum, where you can learn how to get and stay active and healthy.

For information on issues related to obesity and healthy eating, see our Food Buzz article in the Spring/Summer issue of our print magazine entitled “The Secret Life of Lunch.” And check out our online interview with the activists at Sociedad Latina, with their campaign to bring healthier lunch choices to Boston teens in school.

The Deal with the Steal: The Politics of Plagiarism

By Liz Peters, Editorial Assistant
Art by Gracie Gralike, 19, Missouri

Children rarely like being labeled copy cats, and rightfully so.  From a young age, we are all taught that being yourself is worlds better than acting like somebody else. And if we are unique, what comes from us, even our school work, should be just as unique.

According to the Merriam Webster Dictionary, plagiarism is taking the work someone else has done, and passing it off as your own. This process occurs most often  through a ‘copy and paste method’—from website to Microsoft Word in one quick motion. But even though what you might consider to be borrowing, common knowledge, or simply not a big deal, when you take someone’s ideas you’re messing with their intellectual property, which is protected by law.

There are several reasons  a girl might neglect her sense of fairness and/or get lazy and opt out of opportunities for originality in academia: reliance on the internet for analyses; hope of getting a better grade, a time crunch, feeling inferior to the subject, and/or compensating by using others’ knowledge as one’s own.

Avoid the Steal!  Building on the work of www.plagiarism.org (I’ve gotta be sure I cite my sources correctly, after all!), here are some tips to keep you legit:

1)      Site your sources….correctly!

2)      Give credit and use quotation marks where appropriate

3)      Manage your time well so that you will not feel rushed in completing an assignment, and thus less tempted to take the ‘easy way out’ and use someone else’s work

4)      Explore whether your school has anti-plagiarism software you can use to help prove to your teachers that your work is original and that other students have not stolen your work.  An increasing number of colleges and universities endorse the use of software that can detect plagiarism—either between students, as papers are archived, or from the internet—through program databases that compare with billions of websites! Turnitin and WriteCheck, which allows you to check your work for plagiarism and originality before handing it in, are examples. If you don’t have current experience with these yet, you may come across them in your future.

For more information on plagiarism, see:  www.plagarism.org.

For more information on intellectual property, see: http://www.hg.org/intell.html

Note:  Fact checking and citing sources correctly is something that we at Teen Voices take very seriously.  In fact, it’s a major portion of how our college-aged editorial interns spend their time here! They make sure that the feature articles produced by the teens in our program give proper credit for ideas and information.

A big ‘thank you!’ to plagiarism.org for aiding in the (original!) production of this piece!

Women = Leaders: Impact and Innovation at the 33rd Annual Simmons Leadership Conference

Article and photos by Liz Peters, Editorial Intern

A crowd of over 3,000 women, with a few men sprinkled in, gathered on Thursday, April 5, at the Boston World Trade Center to celebrate, share, and inspire stories of female leadership.

Meg Whitman, president and CEO (chief executive officer) of Hewlett-Packard (better known to the public as the technology powerhouse “HP”), kicked off the day with tales of her own ascent to leadership and sage advice for other women. Whitman is ranked one of the Top Five Most Powerful Women by Fortune magazine.  She sites her mother, Margaret, as a big influence for her success. She explained that her mother’s “can-do” attitude and work ethic during World War II has motivated and even pushed her throughout her life.  Her mother went to college, something that she didn’t tell Whitman’s father until five years after they’d been married because it “never came up.” During the War, she became a mechanic and role model.

As for Meg, after attending college at Princeton University and receiving her masters in business at Harvard, Whitman worked for various companies, including Disney and Hasbro. At Hasbro, she was the general manager and syndicated the airing of Teletubbies from the U.S. to the U.K. (She admitted she found enjoyment in working with Mr. Potato Head!)  She landed a job at eBay in 1998. When Whitman flew across the country to California for the interview, she was greeted by a receptionist at the office. After she was hired, Whitman noticed the receptionist was gone; she later learned the woman had been hired for the day—that’s how small eBay was! At the time, the trading and sharing company was made up of 30 employees and was worth $4 million. As CEO, Whitman helped eBay grow into the 15,000-employee, $8 billion success it is today.

After running for governor of California, the third woman in 20 years to do so, Whitman landed her gig at HP in Sept. 2011. There, she contributes to the operation of cell phones, credit cards, and the running of the U.S. Navy! “It is the fabric of global society,” she said of the world’s biggest computer maker. Whitman is the second woman to lead HP; in 1999, Carly Fiorina was the first female CEO of the Fortune 20 Company—and one of the first female CEOs of any company this size. Today, female CEOs run companies such as the Pepsi Company, Rite Aid, Yahoo!, and Kraft Foods (mac and cheese, yum!), among other stellar organizations.

As Whitman spoke about the qualities of a leader, she stressed that no matter what, you must remain true to yourself and what you stand for. “Inaction presents a greater cost than making a mistake,” she said. Better to take a chance, ladies, and always follow your gut!

The Simmons conference included presentations by other leading ladies such as journalist Michelle Norris, Zipcar cofounder Robin Chase, video game innovator Jane McGonigal (watch for our upcoming interview with her!), and the first African-American female combat pilot, Vernice Armour.  Each spoke of the challenges and rewards of being female in their profession. Tennis legend Billie Jean King, who catapulted the movement for gender equality in sports by beating male tennis star Bobby Riggs in their epic 1973 match, closed the conference.

Overall, the conference was an inspiring event. In the words of Whitman, “The ceiling is where you put it!” Nothing can stop you but yourself, so get going!