A Mighty Girl Blog

  • A Mighty Girl Top Pick: Terry Pratchett's Tiffany Aching Series

    A few times a week, A Mighty Girl highlights a recommended book on our Facebook page and blog and today we're featuring Terry Pratchett's series on Tiffany Aching, a young witch in training. We've received many great recommendations this week of books to add to the site and Pratchett's series was suggested repeatedly so, of course, we quickly added it to the site!

    Perfect for children 9 and up, this humorous, adventure-filled fantasy series follows Tiffany from her days as 9-year old witch trainee in The Wee Free Men through to her emergence as an independent 16-year old witch. As Tiffany comes of age, the topics addressed become more complex and, in the final book, she confronts religious prejudice and other challenges. Throughout the series, Pratchett strikes a perfect balance between fun, adventure, and thoughtfulness that makes for perfect reading for young, inquisitive readers.

    On a final note, parents should be aware that the recommended reading age increases to 12 and up as the series continues due to the weightier topics addressed; however, the later books are likely accessible to younger readers with parent guidance.

    The Tiffany Aching series begins with The Wee Free Men and followed with A Hat Full of Sky and Wintersmith and concludes with I Shall Wear Midnight.

     

  • Women's Sports Today & the 36 Words that Made It All Possible

    Even for non-sports fans it would have been hard to miss the excitement around Baylor's women basketball team victory over Notre Dame last week. With this victory, the Baylor women not only won the national championship but became the first N.C.A.A. basketball - in either the women's or men's divisions - to win 40 games in a season. Deservingly, much attention has been paid to the role of 6-foot-8 Baylor star Brittney Griner, recently named the Associated Press' women's college basketball Player of the Year.1

    Stepping back from these current events for a moment however, it's worthwhile to reflect on the relatively recent changes that took place in America that made accomplishments like Griner's possible. The U.S. has among the highest levels of participation of girls in sports and that fact is largely due to a little known, but hugely significant law passed in 1972 called Title IX. Title IX is incredibly succinct, declaring in only 36 words that "No person in the United States shall, on the basis of sex, be excluded from participation in, be denied the benefits of, or be subjected to discrimination under any program or activity receiving Federal financial assistance." In short, title IX requires gender equity in all educational programs that receive federal funding. Although this post focuses on its impact on athletics, it's worth noting that the law also contributed significantly to the increase in women obtaining advanced degrees due to elimination of gender bias in admission policies.

    Prior to its passage, many schools offered few athletic options for girls and even major sporting events often barred women. The picture below depicts a famous instant during the 1967 when Kathrine Switzer ran in the Boston Marathon in violation of its ban against women. Officials attempted to remove the 20 year old Syracuse University student from the route mid-run but other runners came to her aid, and she was able to complete the race.

    There's no question that Title IX has had a transformative impact on girl's and women's participation in sports. Just consider that the number of women's intercollegiate teams at colleges increased from an average of 2.5 per school in 1970 (two years before Title IX's enactment) to 8.65 per school in 2008 -- that translated to an increase in the number of individual female college athletes from 16,000 in 1968 to over 180,000 in 2008. High school participation experienced similar growth and, as of 2007, there were over three million high school female athletes not including those involved with community and club teams.2

    As a child of the '80s, I personally benefited from the legacy of Title IX. There was never any question in my family that I would play sports as a child and our community and school system provided robust sports programs for both girls and boys. Like me, the young female stars of today such as Griner are the inheritors of the Title IX legacy. As we celebrate the athletic accomplishments of today, let's take a moment to remember the hard work and dedication of girls and women of the past that helped make it possible.


    Recommended Reading

    For a great resource on teaching tweens/teens about the history of Title IX and its impact on girls' lives, we recommend Let Me Play: The Story of Title IX: The Law That Changed the Future of Girls in America.

    There are several great, inspirational books on famous women athletes perfect for young athletes or those you'd like to encourage to participate in sports including Game Face: What Does a Female Athlete Look Like?, Superwomen: 100 Women-100 Sports, Yes, She Can!: Women's Sports Pioneers, and Extraordinary Women Athletes.

    A Mighty Girl also has a growing sports section with many fiction and non-fiction books on girls and women in sports that can be sorted by a specific sport. And, for a compelling depiction of girl's sports prior to the passage of Title IX, don't miss the film Believe In Me.

    Title IX is a living law - even with the many advances in women's athletics, it is still very relevant today and faces challenges to weaken its impact. To learn more about protecting Title IX and about your rights under Title IX, the Women's Sports Foundation offers wonderful resources. They also offer this helpful primer on Title IX.

  • The Forgotten Legacy of Amalie Noether

    Amalie Noether was a groundbreaking 20th century mathematician who Albert Einstein called "one the most 'significant” and “creative' female mathematicians of all time." Although Noether made tremendous contributions to theoretical physics and abstract algebra, even among the scientific community Noether is virtually unknown today. Unfortunately, this type of obscurity is a fate common to many women scientists and mathematicians of the past and perhaps one all the more bitter due to the struggles they underwent to achieve respect and recognition in their own time.

    Amalie Noether

    At A Mighty Girl, we believe the celebration of women's history should be a year-round endeavor and not simply relegated to its official month of March.  As such, we want to take a moment to remember the life and work of Amalie Noether, a groundbreaking 20th century mathematician. The New York Times ran a wonderful feature about Noether this past week, describing how Albert Einstein called her "one the most 'significant” and “creative' female mathematicians of all time." Although Noether made tremendous contributions to theoretical physics and abstract algebra, the NY Times recounts how, even among the scientific community, Noether is virtually unknown today. Unfortunately, this type of obscurity is a fate common to many women scientists and mathematicians of the past and perhaps one all the more bitter due to the struggles they underwent to achieve respect and recognition in their own time.

    We've found locating high-quality biographies of women scientists and mathematician to be quite challenging. With the exception of a few famous cases like Jane Goodall, who is fairly well represented in children's literature, there appear to be rather slim pickings for these types of biographies. In Amalie Noether's case, we were able to track down one biography about her for young readers but this is not the case for many female historical figures.

    Even so, we are optimistic that there are no doubt many great biographies available that we haven't yet encountered. If you have any to recommend, we'd love to hear from you. Post your recommendation in the comments below or using the "Feedback & Support" button on the right side-bar. Thanks for helping a new generation appreciate the contributions of these great women!

    Image from Wikipedia

     

  • A Mighty Girl is Launched!

    A Mighty Girl was founded on the belief that all children should have the opportunity to read books and watch movies that offer positive messages about girls and honor their diverse capabilities.

    We are proud to announce the launch of A Mighty Girl today! After years of seeking out empowering and inspirational books for our four young nieces, we decided to create A Mighty Girl as a resource site to help others equally interested in supporting and celebrating girls. Our labor of love has now come to fruition as the world’s largest collection of books and movies for parents, teachers, and others dedicated to raising smart, confident, and courageous girls.

    The site was founded on the belief that all children should have the opportunity to read books and watch movies that offer positive messages about girls and honor their diverse capabilities. We believe that girls do not have to be relegated to the role of sidekick or damsel in distress; they can be the leaders, the heroes, the champions that save the day, find the cure, and go on the adventure. It is our hope that these high-quality children’s products will help a new generation of girls to grow and pursue whatever dreams they choose -- to truly be Mighty Girls! Continue reading

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