TEDxWomen – Teenage Girls Harmed by our Culture

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The other day I attended the TEDxWomen event at the Paley Center for Media in NYC. The speakers were all leading-edge innovators with powerful ideas and I was thrilled to cover the conference in depth for Technorati Media in a 4-part series.

However, I wanted to bring to my Connect with your Teens audience, the relevant areas of the conference that dealt with teenage girls. TEDxWomen dealt with the issues of women at all ages levels.

Rachel Simmons is the author of bestselling books about girls, Odd Girl Out and The Curse of the Good Girl. She took the stage with Claire Sannini, a 13 year old girl from NJ.

Claire spoke about how her life had changed in 7th grade when her entire group of friends dropped her and she was completely alone. It took a full year before she stop trying to get them back and realized that she needed to make new friends.

Rachel then said that we have to give girls the resources to manage relationships. Girls outpace boys in test scores, enrollment rates and leadership positions in high school. However they have very low rates of self esteem in adolescence. Girls are under pressure to please everyone, be perfect, be liked by all. This is coming from our culture. Their psychological resumes are lagging generations behind. Women are leery of being considered the best. This begins in teenage years.

Relationships can provide an in-house classroom to girls on how to be a better leader. If you give a 10 year old girl the skills to tell a girl to stop bossing her around, you are giving her conflict skills. Girls need to build their “inner resume” for future career strength.

Advice from her mother that helped Tan Le, a Tech Entrepreneur and business executive was “Just do it and don’t be what you’re not. You need a lot of crazy ideas to get a few brilliant ones.”

Jennifer Siebel Newsom  is a filmmaker, actress, spokesperson and advocate. She wrote, directed and produced the documentary film Miss Representation, which debuted at the 2011 Sundance Film Festival.

Miss Representation shows us that the media is sending dangerous messages to young people. Women are brought up to be fundamentally insecure. How do we change it? Women must write their own stories. The media can be an instrument of change. It depends on who is piloting the plane.

Jennifer discussed how gender roles are so normalized that we are desensitized to them. Media is the most powerful cultural messenger of all and reality TV has made it worse. Kids are especially vulnerable. Children’s brains aren’t fully formed until their early 20s. “Media is killing our daughters ambition and destroying empathy in our sons. Let’s demand a media that uplifts us all. It is up to us. But it requires action and it requires it now. Each of us has the capacity to represent change.”

If you are interested in other issues involving women, such as health, aging, economics, social injustice, and more, see my Technorati articles, TEDxWomen Part I – Resilience, TEDxWomen Part 2 – Relationships, TEDxWomen Part 3 – Rebirth and TEDxWomen Part 4 – Re-Imagining.

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See also:
TEDxTeen 2013 Speaker Highlights
Why International Women’s Day is Important
Malala Day: Support Education for Girls
A Little F’d Up: Book on Feminism for Teens and Young Adults 
Geena Davis on Gender in Media at The Paley Center


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  1. This is incredibly eye-opening for me. As a mother to three little girls, 4 and under, I am now more aware of what society is saying about girls and boys.

    Thank you for this gentle nudge to be more observant of what society is teaching my girls.

    Glad to have found you. ~Jenna


  1. […] Jennifer and I talk about girls and technology, the amazing benefits of video gaming, and how blogs can be used for social […]

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