Petra Stumpf, a 26-year-old Peace Corp Volunteer working in the Philippines, and hailing from Jonesboro, Georgia, came across GENaustin while searching for youth empowerment materials to inform her work. Her primary project is teaching English, but she also conducts interactive empowerment seminars for youth about everything from sexual health and relationships to gender roles and discrimination. When she heard that GENaustin was looking to tell the stories of extraordinary girls, she knew just the girl: Vallerie Joyia Demavibas, a 15 years old chess player who, according to Petra, “pours her heart and soul into the game”:
Hello, my name is Vallerie Joyia Demavibas, I am 15 years old and I live in Barangay Tagpait, Aborlan, Palawan, Philppines. When I was 12 years old in grade 5, I tried playing chess for the first time because for me, this game is fun and interesting! In The Philippines, chess is a sport, it’s also very popular in Japan and Korea- many Chess Masters are from there. Some day I want to be a Chess Master. I’m thankful because my brother taught me how to play this game. Actually, I have three brothers named Rainyel, Rodel, and Renzen. They are all chess players and I’m proud to be in their family. I also have one sister, Kate Andrea, who plays Taekwondo in college. I prefer chess to taekwondo because chess is not violent and I won’t get hurt!
When I play chess, my whole mind is focused on the game and my opponent so everything else, all my problems, disappear for a little while. Chess allows me to show my feelings in a game environment because usually I’m a shy person. For me, chess is my life! Everyday I play about 5-7 games! None of my friends enjoy chess like I do, it’s not such a popular game here, but I’m not discouraged, I just play with my brothers. Recently, I competed in a Provincial Meet here on my island and won second place. I encourage all the readers to be good students, positive thinkers, and to try chess!
Vallerie’s love of and success at chess is even more impressive considering that, of the 1000 most successful chess players in the world, only 22 are women. Way to break down barriers for girls! Go Vallerie (and Petra)!
Do you know a girl who’s doing something amazing (in Austin, or anywhere in the world?) Email firstname.lastname@example.org and tell me about it!
Girls: We need your help!
The team behind WONDER WOMEN! THE UNTOLD STORY OF AMERICAN SUPERHEROINES, a 2012 SXSW Film Festival premiere, will host a community event benefitting GENaustin on Sunday, March 11, from 5 to 7 p.m. at the Gallery Black Lagoon, 4301 Guadalupe Street, Austin, 78751.
And we’re having an art contest! Want to display your art?
The GENaustin Art Contest
-If you were a superhero, what would your costume look like?
-What special powers would you have?
Make a piece of original art that shows yourself as a superhero, and it will be displayed in the Gallery Black Lagoon! It can be digital art or you can scan and email it to us!
Be sure submit your artwork to Brittany@genaustin.org by Friday, March 9th.
Attendees of the event will have the opportunity to:
· See snippets from the documentary WONDER WOMEN! THE UNTOLD STORY OF AMERICAN SUPERHEROINES.
· Listen to a Q&A with WONDER WOMEN! Director Kristy Guevara-Flanagan and Producer Kelcey Edwards, moderated by Mary Celeste Kearney, Associate Professor of Radio-Television-Film and Women’s and Gender Studies at the University of Texas at Austin.
· Enter a superheroine/superhero costume contest.
· Enjoy food and refreshments.
The event is free and open to the Austin community, a SXSW badge or film pass is not required to attend. Staff from GENaustin will be on hand to collect $5.00 donations for the organization.
WONDER WOMEN! THE UNTOLD STORY OF AMERICAN SUPERHEROINES traces the fascinating evolution and legacy of Wonder Woman. From the birth of the comic book superheroine in the 1940s to the blockbusters of today, WONDER WOMEN! looks at how popular representations of powerful women often reflect society’s anxieties about women’s liberation. WONDER WOMEN! goes behind the scenes with Lynda Carter, Lindsay Wagner, comic writers and artists, and real life superheroines such as Gloria Steinem, Shelby Knox and others who offer an enlightening and entertaining counterpoint to the male dominated superhero genre.
SXSW Official Screenings:
Saturday, March 10, 7 p.m., Alamo Drafthouse South Lamar, 1120 S Lamar Blvd. 78704
Monday, March 12, 11 a.m., Violet Crown Cinema, 434 West 2nd St. 78701
Tuesday, March 13, 2 p.m., Alamo Ritz, 320 E. 6th St. 78701
Friday, March 16, 4:30 p.m., Alamo Ritz, 320 E. 6th St. 78701
The Women’s Media Center released their annual report about the representation of women in the media, which revealed that in every aspect of the media, women are not being represented.
Some key findings:
All this is despite the fact that women make up 73% of Journalism and Communication Grads. These findings raise a variety of questions: how are we to expect the gender makeup of the media to change, if boys will hire boys? And how can the news, television, radio and movies we watch to accurately reflect the lives of girls and women when girls and women are not being given the opportunity to tell those stories? Knowing how to critically evaluate media is one part of the equation- but making sure that women play a role in creating that media in the first place is another. Good Magazine is suggesting people take the time to promote women through their social networks- and then tweet about it, using the hashtag #promotewomen. Will you participate? What else can we be doing?read more
It is a well known, (if often unacknowledged) fact that in our society there still exists a significant gap in the number of women compared to men in the fields of science and math, and that women still lag in leadership positions, holding only 5% of top corporate positions and a minority of positions in elected legislatures (just 16% in the USA).
What is to account for this difference? Not ability. A recent study that analyzed math scores from more than half a million fourth- and eighth-graders from 86 countries found essentially no gender differences between girls and boys in math performance, and that that the more equal the societies were regarding gender, the better everyone did in math. And a new study in the journal Science concluded, “Gender differences in choosing to enter competitions are one source of unequal labor market outcomes concerning wages and promotions.” Other studies have supported this conclusion, finding that when women and men see a job posting where they do not have every qualification, women are much less likely to apply for those positions than men are. And in the field of politics, studies have shown that women are more likely than men to perceive the electoral environment as highly competitive and women are much less likely than men to think they are qualified to run for office.
The researchers of the Science study conducted an experiment which involved three methods that provided an initial advantage to women in a math competition. The study that was conducted indicated that if a system of gender-based affirmative action was put into place initially, women felt more confident about their abilities and were not only more likely to enter the contest, but more likely to succeed as well.
So what is happening here, and what do we do about it? According to Anita Gurian, a clinical assistant professor of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry at the NYU School of Medicine, for girls, “Starting in the pre-teen years, there is a shift in focus; the body becomes an all consuming passion and barometer of worth.” Girls get the message that being smart is unattractive, and they start to hide their accomplishments & their ideas. Girls are also exposed early on to the message that certain fields are difficult for them, and these expectations of failure eventually become a self-fulfilling prophecy.
This “confidence gap” doesn’t just impact girls in their careers. It has an impact on every aspect of their lives. A study by the Center for Disease Control and Prevention of teens who had unintended pregnancies found that 25% did not use contraception because their partners did not want them to. It is for this reason that it is so important girls learn early on to be assertive, to stand up for themselves, and to feel comfortable saying “no.”
In order to succeed in fields where women are traditionally underrepresented, encouraging STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) and participation in entrepreneurship & civic engagement is incredibly important. But on a more basic level, it is clear we need to encourage girls to be confident, assertive, and proactive in all aspects of their lives. That is why GENaustin, through our array of programming, seeks to empower all girls to recognize and celebrate their abilities, and to never feel intimidated to pursue their goals. Ultimately it is today’s empowered girls that will become the first women to jump the gender gap.