Pick up any newspaper or magazine. Stories about women's achievements take center stage. More women than ever head major corporations and take the lead in traditionally male-dominated fields. But all this opportunity comes at a price. Women can have it all-both the breaks and the breakdowns-and it starts in childhood.
Very young girls are as self-assured and creative as boys and as willing to try all kinds of activities. However, adolescence is naturally a time of tumultuous transformation and societal pressures.The result of grown-up pressures on adolescent girls is a loss of resiliency and optimism. They become less curious or inclined to take risks and lose confidence that their own thoughts, feelings and opinions are worthwhile. Their energetic, assertive personalities are replaced with self-critical and depressed demeanors. Schoolwork suffers. Sadly, some believe the only way out of their troubles is suicide.
Changes in American society during the last 30 years have raised the stakes for unprepared girls. Despite the women's movement, sexism and violence threaten today's adolescent girls. Statistics from the American Association of University Women reveal that 70 percent of girls report harassment and 50 percent experience unwanted touching at school. The pressure on younger and younger girls to become sexually active often leads to pregnancy or the discovery that they have a sexually transmitted disease.
What's the result?