Boston GLOW is a breeding ground for the modern day superwoman. GLOW fosters opportunities for women of all ages to become empowered community leaders and active world citizens.

Real Girl Leaders: Eliza Klein

As we continue to highlight #RealGirlLeaders, we bring you Eliza Klien.  Eliza is 18 years old and a recent graduate of Cambridge Rindge and Latin School.  She is a 2015 Boston GLOW #IGNITEChange Finalist working to empower girls through creating more positive images of women and girls in fantasy and fiction.  Below you will find her winning 2015 IGNITE Change essay!


Celebrating Female Characters: A Zine About Strong Young Women


For years, I saw myself as a minor character in my own story. There is nothing bleaker than the powerlessness of feeling like a minor character in one’s own life. Unfortunately, this is not an uncommon sentiment for quiet, insecure teenage girls.

            It was this feeling of insignificance that initially drew me to the genre of fantasy. The main characters in fantasy are individuals who thought they were nobody, only to wake up one morning to realize that they were special and the world needed them. I could imagine my face as theirs, their deeds as my own. Reading their stories gave mine a little more importance and provided me with an escape into bizarre eliza1.jpgand intriguing worlds.

During sophomore year, I began to really question what I was reading. Before then, I had read for the stories, read for the characters, read to escape. But then, like a light had gone off, I began to notice the heroes that I was always rooting for, the brave saviors, were more often than not men. Where, I began to wonder, are the women in these fantasy books? Where are my people?

If I had $1000, I would use it to start a conversation about strong female characters in fantasy fiction. These characters are often missing, often overlooked, and female students in my community would feel more empowered if this conversation existed.

            I am currently participating in a semester-long project that examines how young women access power in various mediums of fantasy. I am working with two other female friends through the English department at our public high school. Specifically, in our project we are comparing how women access power in High Fantasy, a sub-genre consisting of an imagined world, versus in Urban Contemporary Fantasy, a sub-genre that take

s place in our urban world but contains characters with supernatural powers.

My partners and I feel that it is important to study how female characters access power in different types of Young Adult literature. This is because young readers - and especially young female readers - can deeply internalize the messages that books send to them. Sometimes, books send empowering messages to young readers. For example, after reading the Harry Potter series in fifth grade, I felt more comfortable with my own convictions because of Hermione Granger, the series’ strong female protagonist. Hermione taught me to be unapologetic for my beliefs and to express myself fearlessly with power and pride. Hermione accesses strength through her intellect, her confidence, and most of all, her unwavering voice. She is an example of a strong female role model within the fantasy genre.

However, fantasy fiction can also send disempowering messages to young readers. It is important that, as young women, we begin to identify these messages so that we can subvert them. Smashing the patriarchy begins by recognizing the problematic messages to which we are exposed. One issue I’ve noticed in the fantasy genre is that throughout both High and Urban Contemporary fantasy, strong women are almost always portrayed as white. Young Adult literature that ignores issues of intersectionality and racism cannot comprehensively empower all young women, as these books send the covert message that all heroes and heroines have to have light skin and straight hair.

            Evidently, Young Adult literature sends varied messages to readers, both positive and negative. I believe that starting a conversation in my community about how women access power in fantasy fiction will allow my peers to celebrate strong female characters as well as think critically about what they are reading (and watching - many popular TV shows fall under the “fantasy fiction” category, such as Game of Thrones, Supernatural, and Buffy the Vampire Slayer).

In order to start a conversation about powerful female characters - and sexism within fantasy literature - in my community, I have begun to create a zine with my friends. Zines are self-made, self-published mini-magazines, and they are often utilized to spread awareness about social justice issues. Our zine will include art, articles, poetry, interviews with local fantasy authors, and analysis of how women are both accessing power and being overlooked within the genres of High and Urban Contemporary fantasy. We have already begun our work for the zine, and a few of our comics for the zine are attached at the end of this essay.

            My peers and I truly believe that if we can get this zine circulating, we will spark a broad conversation about women in literature and both the triumphs and shortcomings of feminism in fantasy fiction. Middle and high school aged girls in my intellectual, progressive city are always reading, an

d this zine would both celebrate student work as well as give local young women a way to start thinking about the complex messages they are receiving from their books. Since I live in a very liberal city, most teenage girls self-identify as feminists and are already aware of many gender issues that exist in our society. However, I feel as though the issue of female literary characters, and how they are often under-recognized, or even missing, is often overlooked.

            Though we are not finished with our zine, I am confident that this project will have long-lasting effects on our community. Our zine celebrates young voices, strong women, and female writers, and it points out issues within fantasy fiction - the lack of female characters, the lack of people of color, and the general patriarchal systems that undermine female power. Attached is a list of what we would do with $1000 to start this conversation about women in literature.

Our list of costs adds up to $950. We would donate the remaining $50 to our local, student-run feminist club, which has empowered my peers and I in many ways and runs off of donations and fundraisers. In addition, once our zine is published and bound, we will circulate it throughout our community, donate a few copies to the library, and sell copies to interested students. We will sell the zine for $4 and donate all of the proceeds to a women’s shelter in our town.

            I am incredibly passionate about fantasy literature and about feminism. I feel that young women in my community can truly become empowered by thinking critically about what they read, about the messages they see in society, and about the female characters in their books. I want to raise awareness about the fact that there aren’t enough powerful female characters - and especially non-white female characters - in fantasy. I also want to celebrate the heroines that do exist, with the hopes that other young readers will find the same empowerment in Hermione Granger (and other characters) that I did. Finally, I want to celebrate the voices of real young women in my community through my zine. My friends and I will showcase our own work, but we are also taking submissions from other students in our school, and will include all creative submissions in our zine.

            With $1000, young women in my community will have access to a student-created piece of work - a zine - that will allow them to begin recognizing and combating oppressive literature, as well as celebrating the strong female heroes who have shaped us in so many ways.


Examples of art pieces in our zine:








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Real Girl Leaders: Douana Offre


Today we bring you our 5th #RealGirlLeader, Duoana Offre.  Douana is 17 and a student at Cathedral High School. Douana is a 2015 Boston GLOW IGNITE Change Finalist, and an example of the young women in the Boston area putting forth real ideas to create lasting change for women and girls.  Here's Douana's idea to empower women and girls!


Empower Each Other

Growing up as a member of the Millennial Generation, I have experienced many different things. This generation, I believe, has lost sight of what it really means to be a community helping one another and respecting one another. Often times this is not the case, with myself as well as other teen girls in or around my area. There is a lot of physical fighting and fighting on social media. There is so much unnecessary drama or "beef" within the communities of  Boston, not just with young women but with everyone from teens in early adolescence to grown adults in the prime time of their lives. These grudges can be held onto for long periods of time; sometimes they can last a lifetime. I often hear things like “I do not like this girl because she used to date a boy at the same time as me.” Instead of being angry at the boy in the middle, we take it out on each other.

Life is not about holding grudges and that is a motto I love to live by on a daily basis. A lot of girls my age say, " I don't trust other girls" or " I only hang out with guys because girls are all about drama." It’s sad.  As young girls growing into women, I believe we should empower each other not diminish each other. As women, we already have a disadvantage in society due the system of oppression known as sexism that gives unearned advantage to men and oppresses women or gender nonconforming people. We already have the stress of sexism upon us; we don't need to add even more stress onto ourselves. We have to fight harder to receive the same amount of respect as males. We are just as capable and as intelligent, if not more, than males and we can't let this false idea of what women are to define who we truly and genuinely are.

This is why if I had $1,000 to spend to make a change for girls in my community I would spend it on establishing an organization called the Teen Girls’ Neighborhood Collaborative Boston. This organization would be a space for the young women between the ages of 12 to 19 in the city to get together and discussion different issues, such as domestic abuse, violence, teen pregnancy support, struggles with school, etc, as well as a safe space to deal with any drama or “beef” in a positive way. There would be experts to help deal with the different issues we are faced with as young women. I know for me personally, I would love a space that serves to do this. I am tired of seeing my friends fighting over childish things. We should stop doing this to ourselves. We are separating ourselves. It’s a natural thing for women to be jealous of each other but if we were to empower each other and connect with each other it would make a big difference.

I envision it being a 2 to 3 time a week place for girls to get what they need from experts or their peers. Some of the services would be college preparation, counseling, homework help, social working etc. I know for me personally, I cannot go to any faculty members at school or a lot of these things. The daily routine would look like this:




4:00 to 5:00:


Check in


4:00 to 5:00:


Check in




Check In

Ice breaker

5:00 to 5:30


5:00 to 5:30

Deep Sessions/Healing Circles

5:00 to 5:30


5:30 to 6:00

Closing/ Plus or Delta

5:30 to 6:00

Acknowledgements/ Appreciations

5:30 to 6:00

Closing/ Plus or Delta


            The start of the day would be focused on getting school work done then quick check ins that would consistent of questions such as "how are you and how was your day," "rate your day" or a fun question of the day. The icebreaker would come next to liven up the mood before getting into either the activity of the day or deep sessions. Some of the activities would consistent of things like doing research for an upcoming project, planning an upcoming organization party, planning a fundraiser, making up your own poem or rap or picture that expresses who you are, guest speakers etc. as well as many other things that would bring the group together. Examples of the guest speakers would be therapist, teen clinic representatives or any other person who would talk about their experiences, how they overcame them, and their advice to anyone dealing with it.  Some of the activities would be healing circles to get all the drama out in the open and help them move on and grow from it; or fishbowls which are an inner and outer circle, talking about the question at hand then rotating for each new question. These activities add to why this organization would be different from others; instead of just stating the problems, we would take the next steps to solve these problems. The day would end with a closing chant, plus or delta or acknowledgements or appreciations.

            I find that if you give girls the space to express themselves, they can build up the courage or confidence to do the same in other areas of their lives. I've always been a very shy person but after becoming a part of a social justice organization known as The City School, I have been able to express my emotions more and speak up more instead of being very reclusive. It helped me come out of my shell and blossom into the young woman I am today. I can only imagine doing that same thing for others.  I want every young girl that comes through this organization to tap into her inner self and let it shine. If it makes a difference in at least one life, then I know that I made a good decision by making this dream a reality.

            I've also had a passion for helping young women, whether it be friends or classmates or coworkers. I love being that go to person for advice, support, love or care. I have been doing my research on many of the problems we face and I can see myself continuing on in this line of education to help those around me. It's an amazing feeling knowing you can make a difference in a community for the wellbeing of others. I also loving watching the growth of others.  The initial goal of this organization would be to spark change and reconciliation between the young women in the different communities of Boston

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Real Girl Leaders: Rebecca Sadock

Today is the 4th week in our #RealGirlLeaders blog series.  This series highlights the community change projects written by high school aged girls in the Greater Boston area.  These ten young women developed projects and budgets to address the issues they see as a challenge to women and girls in their communities.  Today's #RealGirlLeaders project comes from Rebecca Sadock a 17 year old recent graduate of Cambridge Ringe and Latin School. 


Infiltrating the Technology Industry

  After haphazardly rebeccas2.jpgenrolling in Introduction to Computer Science last spring and loving the course, I was emboldened to apply to Girls Who Code’s Summer Immersion Program. While I have preferred the humanities and social sciences to mathematics since elementary school, Girls Who Code, a non-profit organization striving to reduce the gender disparity in the field of computer science, broadened my understanding of mathematics' diverse applications. Numbers, I have found, concrete and devoid of subjectivity in traditional mathematics classes like calculus, facilitate exploration and creativity when embedded in code.

During my seven weeks at Girls Who Code, my budding passion for computer science flourished as I witnessed and engaged in innovation at its highest level. Touring technology companies in the Boston area as part of the program, I reveled in groundbreaking projects on facial recognition and listened intently as venture capitalists outlined their investment strategies. For Girls Who Code's final graduation project, I demonstrated my own proficiency in several programming languages, collaborating on a mobile application that I pitched to software engineers from Microsoft and Twitter. As I immersed myself in coding, Girls Who Code emphasized that the underrepresentation of female programmers in the technology industry ought to be addressed by actively recruiting them to the profession. Urging participants to resist gender discrimination as they involve themselves in the computer science community, Girls Who Code reinforced that girls can and should overcome the gender obstacles that might deter them from pursuing their interests in programming and other STEM fields.

Learning to code is a valuable experience that should be afforded to more girls at an early age. In learning how to code, girls obtain a unique skillset that will provide them with many academic and professional opportunities as they transition into adulthood. It is of the utmost importance that more girls become adept in computer science because of the staggering amount of high-paying jobs available in the technology industry. According to Girls Who Code’s main website, “The U.S. Department of Labor projects that by 2020, there will be 1.4 million computer specialist job openings.” Unfortunately, while there is an abundance of software engineering positions in the United States, “just 12% of computer science degrees are awarded to women” who “hold just 25% of the jobs in technical or computing fields.” Very few women are qualified to enter the technology industry. As a result, technology companies, even those who are eager to diversify their workforce, are compelled to hire men in order to fill their numerous job openings. Women are therefore largely excluded from an industry whose employees regularly earn six figure salaries with benefits, have flexible work hours, and are able to take significant maternity and paternity leaves- they cannot reap the benefits of a tech job. Until women infiltrate the technology industry in significant numbers, taking advantage of its outstanding opportunities, gender equity will not be achieved, preventing any significant advancement of women’s rights in the labor market.

In order to rectify the gender inequities in the field of computer science as it stands today, I have been volunteering for a Girls Who Code Club that I co-founded in association with the Harvard Women in Computer Science Club since September. Every Saturday, I teach a diverse group of middle school girls from Cambridge about computer science, emphasizing the opportunities available to women in the technology industry. Through the Girls Who Code Club, these girls have acquired valuable technology skills. They have already coded in Scratch, Javascript, HTML, and CSS. If they were to enter a high school-level computer science class today, they would be prepared for the material covered in the curriculum and they would likely do very well with respect to their older peers. More importantly, these girls have learned to love computer science and are excited to advance their understanding of the subject. They talk about their projects with vigor and passion. They are proud of what they have accomplished since the beginning of the year, but they look forward to accomplishing much more. Since they have been exposed to computer science at an early age, they are unlikely to forsake their love of the field as they develop into young adults. They will not be di


ssuaded from pursuing computer science by the fact that the technology industry is male-dominated.

I would like to use the GLOW scholarship to expand my existing Girls Who Code Club so that it reaches out to many more girls in the Boston area. 

I am aware that Girls Who Code Clubs have already been started in many parts of Boston, but I want to make my club different. I want to provide the girls in my club with opportunities that would not be available to them at a typical Girls Who Code Club. First of all, I would want to make field trips to different technology companies a monthly occurrence. I believe that girls are inspired by visits to companies such as Google or Microsoft because they are be

Another way in which I would like to improve my Girls Who Code Club is to host a huge hackathon for all middle school and high school girls in the Boston area at the end of each year. The hackathon would last six hours from 9 AM to 3 PM on a Saturday in April or May. The girls in my club would participate in the hackathon and would share their creations with the rest of the participants at the end of the event in order to highlight what they have learned over the course of the program. Through the hackathon, the girls would see that there is an extensive computer science community that they can join as fellow programmers. The girls would hopefully understand that there is a large network of girls their own age (or slightly older) who are also interested in computer science and hope to make a career out of programming. The hackathon would enable the girls to connect with many other female programmers that might serve as friends or mentors in the future. Since this club is being run in association with Harvard Women in Computer Science, I believe that Harvard would be willing to lend us a space for the event. I also believe that computers could be provided for the girls who do not have them. We would definitely need money to provide refreshments for the event. I would use the rest of the money to give the girls certificates indicating that they have participated in the hackathon.tter able to envision themselves as employees at those companies. When they observe employee solving a challenging coding problem or a pioneering technological innovation, they imagine themselves in that employee’s place. It is important for girls to realize that working at a leading technology company is a reality for them if they pursue computer science. Many technology companies are willing to provide tours to school groups for free, but it would cost $420 to take 40 girls to and from five technology companies on the MBTA at a student rate. The cost of transportation would be worth it, though, considering how valuable it would be for the girls to understand that there are futures for them in the technology industry.

Coding is a rewarding and enjoyable skill that every girl should learn from a young age. In an age of technology, it is imperative that girls learn how to code if they want to compete with their male counterparts for the best jobs in the market. With funding from the GLOW Scholarship, my Girls Who Code Club would introduce many more girls to computer science and would promote their interest in the field to an extent that is not possible for me to achieve right now.

 To learn more about the IGNITE Change Contest or how to support the Girls Leadership program or an individual IGNITE Change project, please contact

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Real Girl Leaders: Johanna Abrams


As we continue our #RealGirlLeaders blog series, we are excited to bring you an idea for change from 17 year old Johanna Abrams.  Johanna is a recent graduate of Cambridge Ringe and Latin. 


Healthy Food Education and Demonstrations for my Neighborhood

I have been interested in the problems that low income residents in Cambridge face with regard to getting proper nutrition. I have wondered what really matters when it comes to their food choices. Good nutrition affects a person's physical health, emotional health, dental health, moods, energy, mental acuity, and of course, weight. I have volunteered in my neighborhood food pantry, the Margaret Fuller House, for close to two years. I have seen people pick up food like tofu or tempeh and have no idea what it is or how to prepare it. This made me think about ways to introduce a variety of foods to people and show them how to prepare healthy food for themselves and their families.

 I began to think about people’s eating habits. How often do people actually prepare food at home? How much do they know about the importance of nutrition? How and why is one can of beans better than the next? I became interested in what makes people choose the foods they buy. What role does convenience, cost, advertising, access to supermarkets, etc. have in their choices? There is a lot of attention on food deserts and focusing on making sure people have access to fresh produce. While this is very important, a recent study showed that access to healthy food is not the most important factor in body weight. The study showed that marketing plays a more significant role in influencing food choices (PHA, 2014). The purpose of this project is to focus on face-to-face marketing and education about good nutrition and health through food demonstrations in my neighborhood.

 I understand that people need to be educated about what they eat. If you do not have experience with certain healthy foods, you probably will not know how to prepare it or have any interest in it. I have seen many times in my school kids eating chips, muffins, or sugary cereal and Red Bull for breakfast. In my neighborhood, I see people going to corner stores to buy frozen pizzas or microwave dinners. What if, they could go into these same stores, but instead of buying microwave meals or chips, they buy vegetables? What if they knew how to prepare them in a way they would enjoy? Would they do it? Perhaps not. But why is this? It is because many times we do not have the time or the know-how to prepare these items. With my proposal people will understand the importance of good nutrition and learn a variety of ways to prepare healthy food. As we have seen, marketing and access are both important factors in getting healthy food, so both are included in my proposal.

 Cambridge is starting a program called Healthy Markets, started by the Cambridge Health Alliance that is focused on getting healthy foods into corner stores. It recognizes that people shop there frequently but there is not always a healthy option. Their plan is to encourage local convenience stores to have fresh food stands with attractive displays. My plan is to take this one step further by organizing food preparation demonstrations and tasting events. I would begin by recruiting women from our community and across the city to prepare simple, inexpensive, nutritious meals using a variety of healthy, fresh foods. They prepare these recipes in 10 - 15 minutes using a variety of healthy ingredients in the stores. This will allow people to not only have the opportunity to purchase these healthy foods but also learn how to prepare it.

 At first I wasn't sure if implementing this would primarily affect women and girls, so I took a survey. I asked two questions in my survey: I asked the gender of the people in a household responsible for choosing the food and the gender responsible for preparing food. If it was both, I asked what percentage of time it was done by a female. According to the survey of 98 high school students, the majority said that women choose and prepare the food in a household. (Ninety percent said that female choose and prepare the food more than 50% of the time.)  Based on the survey, this project would initially affect women although it would positively affect their families and friends as well. By implementing this plan, women will begin to add healthier food for their entire family. The bias of this survey is that I surveyed students in my school.

 johana_a_3.jpgMy solution is to have weekly demonstrations which could possibly be held at the convenience stores, at the Cambridge Health Alliance lobby (in Area 4), in the lobby of the apartment buildings, and sometimes on the sidewalk. This will act also as a marketing tactic; showing people how fast and easy it is to prepare these delicious and nutritious dishes will also encourage these same people to purchase the products so they can make it themselves and for their families. As I have said, marketing is key and I will be marketing both healthy foods and cooking skills within these demonstrations. But is that enough? In order for people to make changes in their food and diets, they need to understand why nutrition is important. Education is important and will include a campaign with posters and flyers along with index cards with the recipes so they can take this material home to their families. People will hear how eating a good breakfast is important for good focus and good grades and it improves moods and makes emotions easier to handle.

 By implementing my plan, I hope to create a healthier neighborhood, possibly reduce the obesity rate, and build community by bringing people from our diverse community together on a weekly basis during the summer months.

 So what needs to be done? The first step is introducing people to new foods. With Healthy Markets, this is already on its way to being implemented. We are lucky to have farmers markets every day during the summer in Cambridge. Once we get a following of people, we will take tours of farmer’s markets, introduce new vegetables, and bring them back to cook. The ultimate goal of this project is to educate all people, beginning with women and girls, on the importance of good nutrition and how it affects every part of their lives. For this, we will create posters and flyers advertising the demonstrations, informing people about the new food options in these stores, and explaining important nutrition facts with attractive, informative flyers.

 Demonstrations and samples would include main dishes from various ethnic backgrounds, stir-fried vegetables, fruit smoothies, raw vegetables and dips. There are many good recipes on the Champions for Change website which have great recipes for fast, healthy breakfast foods like potato and egg scramble or peachy oatmeal. People who come to the demonstration will have recipe cards with the recipes from that day. 

 To connect people from across the city, we will recruit people from all over Cambridge to volunteer recipes and perform demonstrations. I looked at the cost of buying all the equipment to get started but it would be too much for this budget. So people volunteering would have to bring the pots, knives, and utensils they will need. It is also possible to borrow supplies from the culinary department at CRLS since they don’t need it during the summer. Still we will buy some basic supplies and include cost for printing posters, brochures and recipe cards. Besides basic cooking supplies, the budget includes a folding table for the demonstrations. If the project is so successful that we exceed our food budget, I would ask Whole Foods for food donations.

 If this project is selected, I would do more research, talk to people and businesses to find the best way to make it a success. I would like to have a chance to pursue this since I think it could have a very positive impact in my neighborhood and throughout the city.



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Real Girl Leaders: Denada Bakiasi

Today is the 2nd day of our #RealGirlLeaders blog series, highlighting 2015 IGNITEChange Finalist, Denada Bakiasi.  Denada is 15 years old and a student at Brighton High School.  If Denada was given $1000 to change to role of women and girls in her community, city or school she would start by empowering women and girls to pursue careers in STEM!

Empowering Women in STEM

We are given one chance at life, and we should be able to pursue our dreams and live this life denada.jpgto the fullest. We should never feel as if our gender, our ethnicity, and religion is holding us back. There’s many times that I have resented being a female , since I was always expected to clean the house, cook, take care of my cousins,  while the boys of my same age were allowed to play because “they are boys”. In fairytales, which were the entertainment of my childhood, the princess would wait for the prince to come and save her, In movies woman were always weak, petrified waiting, while the man figured out how to save them.  In cartoons, it was always guys depicted doing awesome experiments, while the girls were portrayed as simply pretty. How the money for the family was allocated was always a man’s job. In my family men always own the property and if the man dies the property is left to his male relatives, and nothing is left to his wife and daughters. All of these things add up to make a girl lack confidence and feel inferior to boys; to make me lack confidence and to make me feel inferior to boys.

 In order to change this inferior perception in myself and others, we need to reshape our insight into how we view ourselves. We need to realize, that we are capable of doing whatever we set our mind towards. Each and every woman can be a leader and already is a leader in her own way. Throughout history women are pushed into being housewives and being dependent on their husband, however times have changed and in this generation we are becoming independent, and we have the chance to change our predicament and be treated equally to men. In school we always learn about great male scientists, who have changed the way that we understand the world, however we seldom learn about woman that have helped to make a change. This is not true however; there are many woman out there that have contributed to science such as Rachel Carson, whose work revolutionized the global environmental movement. We always learn about the genius of Einstein brilliant equation for the relationship between energy mass and the speed of light, however we seldom hear of  Émilie du Châtelet who came up with the equation for the  correct relationship between mass, velocity, and energy that Einstein based his equation on.

Science Technology Engineedenada3.jpgring Mathematics (STEM) is an amazing field; I myself am very captivated by its intricacies. Unfortunately, I have noticed that in every engineering initiative that I have participated, the majority of the time, there has been a ratio of 2 girls for every 13 boys. That is a big concern that so many girls get left out of the engineering opportunities, and how amazing this is given the amount of discussion around the issue. Engineering is fantastic, you basically learn how to bring your own ideas to life, you work on exciting projects in which you only succeed if you cooperate with other people. I believe that if girls get to work on a project they will see how different it is from what they think it is.

Thankfully, at this time of STEM many more opportunities are opening for women. STEM plays a great role in the World’s economy. This is a great field for women to get into now. Women in STEM jobs earn 33 percent more than those in non-STEM occupations and experience a smaller wage gap relative to men. Women bring to STEM fields a different and important perspective that may have been missing when their voice was not being heard. STEM careers offer women the opportunity to engage in some of the most exciting realms of discovery and technological innovation. Increasing opportunities for women in these fields is an important step towards realizing greater economic success and equality for women across the board. It's crucial for young women to understand what STEM is and see if they are interested on it. It is not just that women need to be in STEM, it is more importantly that STEM needs women.

In order to help young girls realize that they can be good leaders, and successful in fields traditionally dominated by man I would like to hold a series of after school workshops to empower these young women. In this afterschool workshop there will be plenty of nutritious food. We are also going to give a pre-workshop survey to the students to find what their preconceived ideas are on STEM. At first I would like to gather every girl and include some fun activities in order to get them to introduce themselves, and know one another. By knowing one another they will feel more comfortable to be themselves, and make some new friends. After the activities, we are going to hold a discussion group where we are going to talk about STEM and what they know about it. I am also thinking of doing a presentation on STEM, so they can get a better understanding on it, and see all the opportunities that STEM offers. In this discussion group any question that the students will have will be answered.The group discussion will make them feel more involved and gain a better concept on STEM.

After working with the concepts of STEM with the students, there will be an activity, enabling the student to build six legged walking insect robots. While it may seem strange, building this robot will be fun, engaging and very inexpensive. Each insect robot kit can be put together for a cost of $15 dollars. The maximum time that it would take to build an insect robot is 40 minutes. This project also requires very simple tools. How could they not fall in love with STEM forever after watching all their little robots run around the tables together, banging into each other or better yet avoiding each other. This will be an activity that they’ll remember for the rest of their life, and spread a message to their friends. I am confident that building this little robot will change the course of some lives, as building a robot has changed the course of my life.

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Real Girl Leaders: Emily Chan

Today we're very excited to kick-off our summer #RealGirlLeaders series.  Each Wednesday we will highlight one of our ten IGNITE Change Finalist's Projects from 2015.  The IGNITE Change Contest asks high school aged girls in Boston, Cambridge and Somerville the question, "If you had $1000, what would you change about the role of women and girls in your school, community or city?"  We were amazed by their tangible plans for change targeting some of the world's most pressing concerns for women and girls.

Our first #RealGirlLeader is Emily Chan.  Emily is 16 and a student at Cambridge Rindge and Latin School in Cambridge, MA. 



On my first day of economics class, I noticed something interesting. When asked to share why we decided to take the course, many of the girls in the room said “I thought it sounded sort of interesting” or “it seemed like it might be useful” while many of the boys said “I want to be a venture capitalist” or “I want to make a lot of money”. When talking to my friend who had the same economics class in a different period, I found out that she was just one of three girls in a class of about eighteen. Much later, while studying how Napoleon’s Civil Code oppressed women by giving husbands full control over property and financial decisions, I realized that even today, lack of control over money is still something that facilitates the oppression of women. It’s common sense that money equals power, and it’s also well known that women make 77 cents to a man’s dollar, and that women make up just 3% of Fortune 500 CEOs.[1] No wonder powerful women are few and far between.

Diving deeper into big money, just 7% of venture capital funding goes to women, and in a study by the Harvard School of Business, despite having the exact same pitch, investors usually chose the man over the woman.[2] According to the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation, men usually start companies with twice the capital of women. In the same line, just 4% of venture capital firms are led by women, and women tend to ask for less money than men as well.[3] As a girl whose dream job is to start and run her own business, this is all pretty disheartening. However, startups led by women tend to succeed more often, and crowd-funding sites like Kickstarter and Indiegogo are leveling the playing field. Women lead 47% of funding campaigns on Indiegogo, and incredibly, women are 13% more likely than men to meet their funding goals on Kickstarter, and 61% on Indiegogo![4] That’s in stark contrast with the traditional forms of funding, where women make up a minuscule fraction of successfully funded start-ups. 

It’s clear that in order to empower women, we need to help them gain control over money, and crowd-funding is much more friendly to women than tradition venture capitalism. If I had a thousand dollars, I would empower girls in the Cambridge community to pursue their interests and consider a career in business by teaching them how to start KicEMILY_CHAN.jpgkstarter campaigns to fund projects of their own interest, and then guiding them through the process of actually running or carrying out their project. As someone interested in business, I have been to quite a few conferences and workshops where experts talk and give advice on speaking, presenting, brainstorming ideas, managing start-ups, etc. but it’s all talk and no action. What I want to do is help girls really fund their own ideas, and give them the ability and experience to make their dreams come true.

I would do this by holding workshops to teach girls how to use Kickstarter, and then pairing them with mentors who would teach them business basics, help them modify their projects to be realistic and feasible, and guide them through the actual process of carrying out their ideas. I envision two workshops for around ten to fifteen girls each, led by speakers drawn from the Cambridge community who have experience with crowdfunding (for example, the startup Electroninks, which raised $674,000 on Kickstarter for its conductive pen Circuit Scribe, is based in Cambridge). In the workshops, the speakers would talk about their own experience launching a startup and using Kickstarter, and then lead a demo on how to use Kickstarter, including tips and tricks for a successful campaign. Teachers or parents would work with girls to set up their Kickstarter accounts, since the program would be targeted towards high school students, likely under the age of eighteen. As for the mentors, Cambridge has a wealth of resources, and volunteers from the Havard Business School, the MIT Sloan School of Management, and other colleges in the area such as Boston University, Northeastern, etc. would give girls advice about things such as pricing, budgeting, setting goals, making spreadsheets, and keeping track of sales, and would work with them on their projects in meetings once a week after school. Working with their mentors would hopefully teach them about the technical side of business, and encourage them to consider business in college, and working on their projects would give them hands-on experience handling money and working out the logistics of running a business. Girls would choose a project based on their interests, which could range from making and selling jewelry at a local crafts fair or online, to filming a short movie or publishing a novel, to starting a business planting trees in backyards. Once they choose a project they’re passionate about, we would use cameras from the school’s media resource center to film pitches and promotional videos for the Kickstarter campaigns. If they are successfully funded, which would take around a month, they can begin carrying out their project, and if they are not, then they can revise and rework their idea and try again. The whole process would go on for around four months, with the first month devoted to fundraising, and next couple of months to refining business models and learning the ropes in order to keep their projects running smoothly. By the end, the hope is that girls will stay in touch with their mentors on their own but will have learned enough about starting a project, raising capital, managing money, and running a business to be independent. They will then have the skills to bring to life any dreams that they might have in the future.

With this project, I believe that I could help get Cambridge girls interested in business and entrepreneurship through a fun and interactive hands-on experience. Having the experience of starting and funding their own project would empower them to set higher aspirations, and their weekly meetings would allow them to build a relationship with a business mentor who would encourage and support them. In order for us to end gender inequality, it is essential that women increase their presence in business and gain equal control of money in the economy, and the first step in that direction is teaching girls to manage money, fund their own ideas, and make their dreams happen.

To learn more about the IGNITE Change Contest or to learn how you can support our Girl Leaders, please contact at anytime!






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To Support Local Organizations, We Rise

For the past week, each day our blog has allowed one woman the chance to tell her story of why she takes a stand and support ending violence against women and girls.  Each piece aims to start an open discourse as we build a community around the issue of gender-based violence.

 As an organization, Boston GLOW believes that true leadership means striving to end gender-based violence against all people, and we will work to raise awareness wherever possible.

This weekend, Friday February 13th and Saturday February 14th, Boston GLOW along with 30 members of the Greater Boston Community will join to present the Boston Community Production of The Vagina Monologues.

The performance is based on interviews with more than 200 women. With humor and grace the piece celebrates women's sexuality and strength. Our cast represents a diverse community of women sharing these monologues, and we invite you to join us! 

Tickets are on sale now and can be purchased at 

 100% of ticket sales go to support local organizations doing incredible work end gender-based violence here in Boston.


 Here's a Spotlight on the organizations supported by your ticket purchase or donation:

1/3 of the Donations Collected Will Support:

Asian Task Force Against Domestic Violence

Incorporated in 1992, the Asian Task Force Against Domestic Violence (ATASK) has operated New England’s only multilingual emergency shelter, advocacy services, outreach, and education programs for battered Asian adults and their children. ATASK’s mission is to prevent domestic violence in Asian families and communities and to provide hope to survivors. ATASK serves large immigrant and refugee populations. 95% of clients have income below the federal poverty line.

To get involved, join, or learn more visit

1/3 of the Donations Collected Will Support:

Victory Programs Women's Hope Transitional Program

 2015 marks Victory Programs’ 40th year of opening the doors to hope health and housing to individuals and families in need. Since its inception in 1975, the agency has expanded to 18 housing and health programs providing shelter and recovery services to 2,600 men, women and families annually. Proceeds from The Vagina Monologues will be benefiting the relocation of Victory Programs' Joelyn's Family Home, an addiction recovery programs for women, which was evacuated in October when the Long Island Bridge was closed indefinitely.

To get involved, join, or learn more please contact Lori Manzelli at

1/6 of the Donations Collected Will Support:

The Young Black Women's Society (YBWS) 

Founded in Boston in 2005, the Young Black Women’s Society Inc. (YBWS), was established to provide a platform for women and girls of color to further develop their personal, professional and civic lives. YBWS sought out to be “The Society” for this demographic, providing relevant programming, activities and personal connections that complement their future goals and aspirations. We welcome you to learn about our organization and join our movement as we affect change and strive for advancement and access in Greater Boston and beyond!

To get involved, join, or learn more please contact Janeen Smith at

and 1/6 of the Donations Collected will Support Boston GLOW's Organized Women Spitfire Series


We thank you for your support, and we look forward to seeing you Friday or Saturday at the show!


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To Take My Place as Survivor, Educator and Activist

For the past week, every day our blog has featured writing from a member of the 2015 Boston Community Production of the Vagina Monologues.  We are proud of the women taking part in this community building performance, and hope that you will join us this weekend - Friday February 13th and Saturday February 14th at the performance. Tickets are on sale today! 

We invite you to read, share and engage in today's post, the 8th in our series brought to you from two time VDay Cast member, Tori. 


I Rise To Take My Place as Survivor, Educator and Activist

The problem for women is that when society dictates to us a false belief that we have no agency in our own sexual experiences, and are at the mercy of our rhythmic biology, this belief carries over to the rest of our lives. If women can only be passive sexual partners, or worse, come to believe and internalize that sex is something that is unpleasant and a bit messy and thus we must endure it politely, once in a while, then so we are also internalizing that women ought not to have agency in other areas of our lives.

I am a Unitarian Universalist minister in training, and a chaplain, and my own stories of survival stand as one testimony in a sea of stories, of disempowerment, submission, violence.  I’ve sat with untold numbers of women for whom agency was taken from them in relationships and of their own bodies. In the conservative Christian religious culture I came from, I wasn’t taught about safe, consensual, pleasurable sex. From the pulpit and classroom, I was taught about submission to my husband, and taught to be chaste until marriage so that my marriage was godly enough that God would be honored and the marriage bed frequently occupied. Huddled gatherings of the married women of the culture I come from would talk in hushed tones about “winning wayward husbands back to the Lord”, ways of withholding or using sex to get what we wanted from our husbands, which was often simply mere survival, disguised as a concern that he was “upset at dinner” or that “work must have put him in a sour mood”.

Nobody told me it wasn’t okay when my husband abandoned me at a store, hit me, drove into traffic, made threats and a plan to enact them, slammed the brakes on the car on the highway with every intention of causing a miscarriage of the baby we were convinced I was growing inside of me. See, the women talked, but we never talked about what was really happening, never named for one another what we each suffered; each of our husbands was wayward and it was our duty to win them back, not to complain, to accept sex as often and whichever way on the promise that real and true submission and obedience would make everything better forever, or at least for a little while.

                I rise to take my place as a survivor and I rise to take my place as an educator and activist. I am proud to be in the vagina monologues cast for a second year. I am proud of the work the cast has done together to break down barriers between us as women, and to engage in our own education. I am proud of the conversations that have happened and will happen as the show is seen, both about the sexual and personal agency of women and about the very real trials and triumphs women face because we are women. I rise with a commitment to do better -to speak more boldly, and to teach and facilitate classes in my ministry settings about safe, consensual, and pleasurable sex that begin with giving women and men the power to name for themselves their own experiences and power.  

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Because I'm Not a Superhero

Today is day seven of our annual #WhyRise series.  We are proud of and inspired by our 2015 Cast of The Boston Community Production of The Vagina Monologues for sharing their experiences and stories as we hope to create open discourse about violence against women. 

Because I'm Not a Superhero


When I was seven, I wanted to be a superhero.  Capes, tights, secret identity – I wanted the whole thing!  I used to sit in my kitchen staring at spoons in an attempt to bend them with only my mind. After the telekinesis phaseI began running around my house on all fours convincing myself I was part tiger.  TIGER GIRL! Savior of all the upper-middle class white people in my South Jersey suburb!

In retrospect, that Comic Book would have been awful…  But the point is, I wanted to kick ass, defeat bad guys, be the one person out of millions able to make a difference in this world.  

As I’ve grown older, I’ve come to realize that the “Only-I-Can-Save-the-World” mentality is toxic and counterproductive.  I do not understand what it is to be anything other than who I am, soI cannot presume to come up with a solution to every injustice.  I am a white queer woman who grew up in a well-off household.  I have zero clue what it means to be black, transgender, lesbian, gay, Latina, Muslim etc. etc. etc.

know now that for most of my life, I have been the villain, not the superhero.  have benefitted from the status quo, from the forced silence of the oppressed, from ignorance or my refusal to question the world I live in. I have not been raised to be a part of the solution; I have been raised to be part of the problem.

I am 22 now and still unlearning all the bs I’ve absorbed, still horrifying myself when I realize the depth of my biases.  Although this is something I’m not exactly proud to acknowledgeit does make me hopeful.  I truly believe that I can only start becoming a part of the solution once I realize that I have been a part of the problem.

That is why I rise.  I rise because making a just society isn’t about some misguided self-serving martyr.  It isn’t about me. It is about a greater USWe are all connected despite our differences and in that incredible connection, there is life, there is hope, there is love, there is healing.

I rise because I am human.  I am one of hundreds, thousands, millions unlearning society’s virulent lessons, living in solidarity, refusing to be a part of the problem, shutting up and listening when we don’t understand, and standing with people across all genders, races, religions to create a just society.

And being a part of that superhuman movement is way cooler than being a superhero.

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I Rise to End the Shaming of Women

Today is Day 6 in our annual blog series, brought to you by Chloe Hart. Chloe is a feminist, a teacher, and a student. This is her first Vagina Monologues production and she is very excited to be involved

Trigger warning regarding sexual assault

I Rise to End the Shaming of Women

I was 19 when I was assaulted. My story has many elements that are common among the stories that have been creating a national conversation about sexual assault over the last several years - I had spent the night boozing it up with friends at a few fraternity parties and, by the end of the night, become very drunk. Late into the night I ran into G, a former flame with whom I’d had a one night stand and remained cordial.

 In the sweaty haze of the fraternity basement, we latched on to one another and, as the party began to wind down, moved upstairs to his room. Very quickly we were having sex, consensually. But he didn’t want to just have sex – G seemed to be after a greater conquest of some kind. It began with his insistence on having anal sex, which I repeatedly refused. Once I’d made it clear that that was off limits, he tried to experiment on my body in other ways – to force his fist into my vagina, to shove a shampoo bottle inside of me, and to have sex with the door open in front of his fraternity brothers. When I proved unwilling to participate in any of these activities, he stormed out of the room abruptly, and shaken, I left the house.

 The encounter left me physically swollen and bruised, but my body was resilient, and in a few days’ time I had healed. Yet as my body mended, a cloak of shame settled over my psyche. G had essentially treated me as a collection of orifices, and the fact that I could be seen this way made me feel that I was unequivocally a slut. I blamed myself for not leaving the situation at the first signs of disrespect, for trying to play it cool, for being too drunk to stand up for myself. The semester was drawing to a close, and fraught with emotion, I left campus for the last few weeks of school to finish my studies at home. I curled up in the arms of my incredibly supportive mother and cried every day for a week until the worst of it was over.

 It’s been four years since my identity was so roughly torn apart through this encounter, but I still experience an upwelling of emotion when I think back to it. I am angry at G for treating me like a body, rather than a person, and I am angry at the Greek life system at my university for creating a culture in which the emphasis on sexual conquests displaced considerations of consent and respect. But more than anything, I am troubled that it was my instinct, after experiencing the assault, to blame and shame myself. Sexual assault is a unique form of attack on the body because of the cocktail of horrible emotions that come along with the physical pain, and I think that in considering how to tackle sexual assault, it is important to understand the meaning that the assault carries for its victims.

 Women have come a long way toward reaching gender equality, but one area in which they continue to lack power is in defining their sexual reputations. The sexual double standard, in which sexually active women are often labeled “sluts” while no such derogatory word is even available to describe promiscuous men, is alive and well. It’s hard to pinpoint when and why some women are branded with this term, but from my observations of heterosexual hookups in college, it seemed to come down to the way a man viewed his female partner. If he remained friendly or desirous of her after a hookup, the encounter might leave her unscathed, but if he treated her with disinterest or scorn, labels like “slut” started to stick. In the context where a consensual sexual encounter can sometimes leave a woman feeling that her reputation is compromised, a nonconsensual encounter becomes a direct attack on her sexual respectability: for a woman to be treated with so much disrespect not only after but during sex is to imply that respect is something that she is not worthy of. This was the assumption that I came to about myself when I was assaulted.

 Much of the focus on curbing sexual assault thus far has been in considering how to define consent and in how to change the micro-cultures which encourage assault. Truly, these are important steps. Yet I think that closer to the root of the problem is the shame that is cast on women who are assaulted. At present, women's sexual identities seem to be defined by their male partners. We need a paradigm shift in which women who have sex, especially with men who lack respect for them, are not considered inherently degraded. We need a culture where women are not defined by what they do, or what is done, to their bodies. This might not take care of the problem of sexual assault itself, but it could spare its victims the identity crisis that goes hand in hand with such an attack.  So this Valentine's Day I rise to re-claim the identities of women who have been assaulted: not as victims, not as ruined things, but as strong, powerful women

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