We Are Westridge
A community blog featuring Head of School Elizabeth J. McGregor, the Westridge Leadership Team, our esteemed faculty members and occasional special guests
Head of School Elizabeth J. McGregor on International Day of the Girl: Many Meanings at Home and Abroad
In just its sixth year, the U.N.’s International Day of the Girl (IDG) is young among the litany of designated “days.” But this “day,” which falls annually on October 11, has a critical mission and has caught the imagination of a generation of girls around the globe by shining a spotlight on gender inequality and advocating for investment in and opportunities for girls.
Globally, much IDG energy focuses on girls’ access to education, as a stunning 130 million girls worldwide still do not attend school (for more information, click here for a story from the head of a girls’ school in Afghanistan). While, thankfully, this is not an issue for us in the U.S., our girls still face significant challenges and gender gaps. We know single-gender education is a powerful tool for overcoming these challenges. It provides an environment in which girls are truly free to be themselves, unleashing new freedom in learning, dreaming, and relationships. It surrounds them with female role models and mentors so they don’t succumb to subtle messages that dampen interests and curtail dreams, such as scientists are men (see research on this topic here) or that boys should have the athletic field at primetime.
We join in the International Day of the Girl movement each year so that our girls pause to celebrate their power and think about the opportunities and challenges before them and how they might help other girls expand their access to opportunity. This year, our fourth-grade students spent their day with a wonderful group of role models, breast cancer surgeon Dr. Amy Polverini, Retired Capt. Kristine Lowe of the Sierra Madre Fire Department, and U.S. Air Force Technical Sergeant Farrell Heydorff (who is also Westridge's own Dean of Lower and Middle School Student Activities). Our Middle School Student Voices group papered the campus with an informative banner highlighting statistics on women in the workforce, female education rates, and gender biases exhibited all over the world. And at lunch – we all took a moment to celebrate our girls: each student received a button with the saying “I’m a Girl, What’s Your Superpower” and then added their thoughts on their personal superpowers to our IDG mural.
This year’s IDG theme is “With Her: A Skilled Girl Force,” which I love, and we are being asked by UN Women to “stand with girls everywhere as they inspire, innovate and take charge of their own future.” To me, this certainly sounds like our Westridge girls and our Westridge community!
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