Adolescence can be both a rich and challenging time for girls as they confront new ideas, explore life's possibilities, and navigate through the stormy seas of physical, social, behavioral, and emotional changes. How are girls meeting these challenges? The research and policy studies reviewed and analyzed for this report provide a mixed picture of progress and continuing struggles. Several large-scale national studies suggest that girls are as likely as boys of the same age to smoke cigarettes, that they have inadequate access to sports programs that offer physical, social, and psychological benefits, that they are twice as likely as boys to be depressed, and that they often are the victims of violence.
Discussions of girls' identity development are based too often on narrowly-defined notions of self-esteem, tending frequently to emphasize overall gender differences without probing the interconnections among race, culture, social class, and sexuality. The structure of future research and of programs and policies devised to improve girls' lives must strive to understand and account for these complexities.
Related Conference Summary:
How Taxes and Public Funding Affect Education and Girls’ Programs (2004 Annual Conference)