While women continue to make strides at the workplace, it’s not enough, according to Ellen Langas, who is a youth career education advocate and author of the Girls Know How® book series. “It’s critical that this generation of girls and boys grows up in an environment where gender parity is the norm, not the exception. We need to redefine the notion of ‘girl power’ for the next generation of young women and ensure that it is focused on career development from an earlier age,” says Langas.
The Girls Know How® book series is dedicated to encouraging girls ages 7 to 12 to explore careers and develop the skills and attitudes that will support them as they grow. The newest book, Super Science Girls! introduces STEM careers. Other books in the series introduce journalism, construction and teaching. Starting at $4.95, books are available at book stores, qvc.com (exclusive set with author autograph), bn.com and girlsknowhow.com.
Langas founded Kids Know How in 2000 and has created a book series dedicated to encouraging girls ages 7 to 12 to explore careers and develop the skills and attitudes that will support them as they grow. The books have most recently been made available on QVC.com.
“We need to eliminate preconceived notions of what girls can or cannot achieve,” says Langas. “That means going beyond the broad notion of ‘girl power’ by helping them envision themselves in a variety of career fields, and exposing them to real-life role models and diverse female characters in books and media that portray women in leadership positions in the workplace.”
Each book within the fiction chapter-book series for tweens introduces a different career, and a character based on a real-life successful female role model. Readers gain meaningful exposure to careers through reading about girls who might be just like them, while the books enable parents and teachers to start and keep the conversation going about career paths.
“While planning a career is probably not on the radar in elementary school, it’s the ideal time to lay the groundwork,” Langas says. “By the time girls reach middle school, research indicates that body consciousness and social acceptance can pull focus from academics, causing girls to shelve their dreams and ambitions.”
The newest book in the series, Super Science Girls!, introduces STEM careers, a field in which women continue to be underrepresented compared to their male counterparts, according to Langas. Sylvia Todd, who created the popular online Sylvia’s Super-Awesome Maker Show at age 8, serves as the real-life inspiration behind Sylvia’s character in Super Science Girls!
“Girls are as naturally inquisitive as boys, and if they are exposed to science at a young age, they are likely to embrace it,” says Pat Woody Reeves, the former chief engineer of the U.S. Naval Surface Warfare Center, whose career served as the basis for one of the characters in Super Science Girls!
“Helping girls discover the relevance of science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) in everyday life stimulates curiosity and problem-solving skills, and introduces a variety of career paths,” according to Langas, who has held positions with Corning Inc. and Westinghouse, and served as a corporate officer and popular program host at QVC, Inc. She is president of NouSoma Communications, Inc. near Philadelphia. “We want girls to know that with hard work, perseverance and passion, they can achieve anything to which they set their minds, without barriers,” says Langas.
Girls Know How books include a Girls Want to Know interview and activities at the end of each book, plus classroom study guides that are free at girlsknowhow.com.
WOMAN OF THE MONTH: YETUNDE “YETTY D” OGUNNUBI
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