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Study: Minnesota Girls Face “Glass Ceiling”

April 29, 2008

Minneapolis, MN – Minnesota girls face a special "glass ceiling." That's the bottom line of a new study released by the Women's Foundation of Minnesota. Spokeswoman Lee Roper-Batker says the results show girls grow up with promise and potential but often face roadblocks.

"The challenge for them -- and it really struck me -- is the degree to which racism, sexism, abuse and their lower self-esteem limit girls' futures and their ability to thrive."

Too many girls turn to drugs or alcohol or other forms of risky behavior in order to escape, she contends, because they're feeling unhappy and have nowhere else to turn.

Roper-Batker also worries because so many girls feel worse about themselves than boys do, and girls have less confidence. One place it shows is in academics.

"Despite the fact that girls study diligently and work harder than boys in school, the report shows that girls score lower on standardized test scores, which puts their future college opportunities at risk."

She says schools should address lower test scores, especially in math and science, by making the learning environment more hospitable to girls. And she thinks financial aid for higher education should be targeted at high-potential/low-achieving girls as well as low-income girls who are often locked out of educational opportunities.

Roper-Batker calls the report is a "wake-up call" but believes it can be addressed through investments of both financial resources and time.

"We know that teen pregnancy rates are higher for girls of color. So what can we do to reduce those rates? We need to have comprehensive sex education. We need to have faith-based groups come in and address that. And we need to make sure there's an equality of expectations within our homes for both girls and boys to work hard, and for both girls and boys to succeed."

More information on the the Women's Foundation of Minnesota can be found online at

Jim Wishner/Kevin Clay, Public News Service - MN