46 A Mormon in the Cheap Seats: Girls Can Change the World

We read this article in the Deseret News and wanted to quote it here. 

It’s a great article.  It’s inspiring.  It draws on research conducted by Tali Mendelberg and Chris Karpowitz, both political science professors, the former at Princeton, the latter at BYU.

Here are a few quotes:

[Girls] have a right to be themselves free of gender stereotypes, to express themselves with originality and enthusiasm, to take risks, to strive freely, and to take pride in success, as well as to accept and appreciate their bodies, have faith in themselves and be safe in the world and to prepare for interesting work and economic independence.


“When women participated more, they brought unique and helpful perspectives to the issue under discussion,” said Chris Karpowitz, assistant political science professor at Brigham Young University and associate director of its Center for the Study of Elections and Democracy. “We’re not just losing the voice of someone who would say the same things as everybody else in the conversation.”


“We are talking about equality and how to distribute resources within the group and in society as a whole. When women talked more, they also talked differently — concerns for children, for the poor, the needy, those who might really be struggling. We are not just missing something others in the group might say or were saying already, but we lose a perspective that contributes to discussion and to group outcome.”


A girl who sees a mother who speaks for herself and voices her opinion will do the same, while a girl whose mother always defers to others, especially the girl’s father, will tend to do the same thing, clear into adulthood.


“Because men fit the cultural stereotype of leadership better than women, they have better access to leadership roles and face fewer challenges in becoming successful in them.”


On a daily basis “girls see a significant absence of women’s voices” in media, where only one-fifth of characters on TV and in movies are female; in school, where 10 women are mentioned to every 100 men in history books; in most high school English classes where only one of the top 10 works of literature used was written by a woman; in the seven top chemistry texts, where 85 percent of the images shown feature men; and in politics, where America ranks 90th in terms of women representatives in government.

“The message is that women’s voices are not important and that they have been and continue to be ‘absent partners’ in the construction of our collective daily life, which simply isn’t the case,” she said.

The juxtaposition between the insights in this article and how the LDS church functions are striking.

According to the LDS web site, this is what the leadership of the LDS church looks like (we couldn’t resist setting it to music):

It is in moment like these that I see our church as half a church.

[Prior MCS Post: 45 Pants-Wearing Women Running Wild]