The Status of Women and Girls: A Reflection

Julia1.jpgHi! My name is Julia and I’m a 7th grader in Colorado. 

On June 12, 2013, I had the amazing opportunity to attend The Women’s Foundation of Colorado Statewide Research Summit on the Status of Women and Girls in Colorado.  As the youngest person in the 300-person audience, it was a wonderful experience to glimpse at new research about how Colorado’s girls and women are faring in the workforce, with education and in leadership situations. Personally, the experience made me rethink my choices for the future, confirmed that I will attend college and encouraged me to work harder in school.  

My mom and dad both have careers and I’ve never given much thought about who makes more money or who has had better opportunities.  I knew that there was some difference between men and women’s salaries, but I didn’t know how much their gender impacts their annual income or lifetime earning potential.  

Did you know that a woman who earns an associate degree or has attended some college makes, on average, less than a man who only has a high-school diploma?  Did you know that women who work full time earn just 80% of what men do? That’s just not fair!

The research presented at the Summit indicated that one reason that happens is that women tend to be attracted to lower-wage careers and often fail to consider science and technology careers.  I have to admit that finding really hit home for me.  I’ve considered being an author, a college professor or a journalist, but I’ve never considered being an engineer, scientist or chemist.  However, after today’s Summit, I’m reconsidering my options (It’s a good thing that I go to a STEM Charter School, I guess!).  Who knows?  Maybe I’ll grow up to be a biologist!

Rocky Mountain PBS also debuted their new documentary called “Losing Ground: The Cliff Effect.”  The Cliff Effect, which I’d never heard of before, is when women who are trying to improve their lives through education or better job opportunities, are dropped from public assistance when their salary creeps up over a certain line.  One of the women featured in the documentary was dropped from child care assistance when her hourly income went up by only a few dollars.  That’s crazy and doesn’t help women and families who are trying to improve their lives.  I hope our leaders will watch the documentary and work together to improve the situation.

There was a ton of other research findings that were really interesting.  I could go on and on, but it might be better for you just to link to the research yourself and read the sections of the report that are most interesting to you: click here for the full report.

I’ve been blessed with a great life.  I have wonderful parents, a pretty-okay brother and I’m lucky to go to a great school.  I’m really lucky to live in Colorado and have an opportunity to grow up in a state where so many people care about my future and the future of all my friends and neighbors.

Most of all, I am proud to be a young woman and I hope we can all grow to be better mothers, daughters, sisters, aunts and coworkers and work together to improve the lives of everyone in Colorado.  

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