Council on Women and Girls Blog

  • African American Women's Forum

    Today, the White House hosted an African American Women’s Forum, bringing women from across the nation together for an opportunity to discuss issues that are important to women in the African American community.  First Lady Michelle Obama surprised guests to provide some of her thoughts on the theme, “Mother, Sister, Daughter, Leader,” an idea she fully embodies.

    Many topics were discussed including education and college affordability.  One of the panels at the forum focused on the Affordable Care Act and how it will affect African American women. The Surgeon General, Dr. Regina Benjamin, discussed the importance of prevention for women and emphasized this point by leading the group in an exercise activity! Jocelyn Frye, Deputy Assistant to the President and Director of Policy and Projects for the First Lady, provided insight on current and future projects Mrs. Obama is working on, and Deputy Adminstrator Marie Johns led a panel on the economy and education. Gene Sperling, Assistant to the President and Director of the National Economic Council, analyzed the current economic status of African American Women in the United States and shared his plan to enact more meaningful fiscal change in the community as a whole.

    Heather Foster is an Associate Director for the Office of Public Engagement.

  • Join the Conversation: STEM Master Teacher Corps

    This Thursday, July 26th, at 1 p.m. EDT, Obama Administration officials will host a conversation on the creation of a new national Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM) Master Teacher Corps – a networked community of talented educators serving as a national resource committed to advancing STEM teaching and learning.

    Launched last week, the STEM Master Teacher Corps initiative will strengthen the quality of STEM education nation-wide and help meet the President’s goal of moving U.S. students from the middle to the top of the pack in math and science.

    Starting with 50 teachers in each of 50 sites, the STEM Master Teacher Corps will eventually expand to 10,000 educators across the country, who will make a multi-year commitment to deepening their subject matter expertise, mentoring other teachers, and building a community of practice where they live and teach.  In exchange, Master Teachers will receive recognition and rewards, including additional compensation, for their work as a Corps member.

  • Honoring Title IX Every Day

    A little over two weeks ago, the U.S. Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights went to court to mark the 40th anniversary of Title IX: the basketball court. 

    Title IX is the landmark legislation that prohibits sex discrimination in education programs and activities that receive federal funds.  The law has since helped pave the way for millions of girls throughout the country to live their dreams of becoming scientists, business owners, athletes, or whatever else they might dream of being. 

    One of the law’s most notable effects has been to increase opportunities for women and girls in sports, and we celebrated this by playing a little pick-up basketball at the Department of Interior.  Energetic senior officials throughout the Obama Administration -- Secretary Duncan, Secretary Salazar, Secretary Sebelius, U.N. Ambassador Susan Rice, Director of the National Economic Council Gene Sperling, and Special Assistant to the President Samantha Power – joined  coaches and players from Howard University, George Washington University, Georgetown University, and the WNBA to play basketball alongside students from District of Columbia public schools. Together, they reminded us that when women are afforded equal opportunities, everybody wins.  

    As we celebrate Title IX’s successes, the Office for Civil Rights (OCR) at the U.S. Department of Education also works to ensure its vigorous enforcement.  Case in point: On July 2, OCR announced resolution agreements with four school districts located in Arizona, North Carolina, Ohio and Texas that will ensure that girls get the equal athletic opportunities they deserve. 

  • @TechGirls: Brilliant, Fearless and Passionate

    Ed note: this post originally appeared on DipNote, the U.S. Department of State’s official blog

    Our inaugural class of 25 TechGirls arrived in New York City late on the evening of Monday, June 25. For almost all of them, it was the first time they had set foot in the United States from their home countries in the Middle East and North Africa. We could immediately see what an amazing, talented, and passionate group of young women we would have the privilege of working with.

    In July 2011, Secretary Clinton announced the launch of TechGirls -- a three-week, intensive youth exchange -- "to encourage innovation and promote the spread of new technologies to give women and girls the support that they need to become leaders in this field." Our Embassies ran a very competitive selection process, identifying the best and brightest young women with high achievements and aptitude in mathematics, science, and technology. There was no better example than Mai, a young woman from Alexandria, Egypt, who is a self-described “computer freak” who wants to be a cardiologist when she grows up. Mai believes that technology can provide better services for citizens based on her experience during last year's protests in Tahrir Square. Back in February 2011, Mai witnessed how Egyptians used social media to bring food and medical supplies to those who needed it most. She is inspired by this example and wants to replicate and extend it among a wider community in her home country.

    Our TechGirls kicked off their adventure with three days in New York City, organized by Legacy International whose mission is to strengthen civil society and foster peace-building and conflict resolution worldwide. During that time, they had the opportunity to connect with Rachel Sterne, Chief Digital Officer for New York City Mayor Mike Bloomberg; Global Kids, which works to develop youth leaders for the global stage;, an organization which encourages young people to create their own vision for making a difference in their community; Souktel, which designs and delivers mobile phone services that link people with jobs and connect aid agencies with communities who need help; and an amazing team of female engineers and business development leaders at Google offices in NYC. Through these discussions, the TechGirls were able to see a variety of ways in which women can becomes leaders in the science and technology space.

    The TechGirls came down to Washington, D.C., at the end of last week. On their first full day in the District, they spent the afternoon meeting many women in senior leadership positions at the White House, including the Office of Digital Strategy, the Office of Management and Budget, and the Office of Science and Technology Policy.

    The TechGirls were joined at the White House by young women from West Potomac High School in Alexandria, Virginia. The TechGirls and the American students had meaningful discussions, sharing their enthusiasm for science and technology and experiences in science fairs around the world -- after just a couple of hours together, they walked out of the room promising to stay in touch and continue the conversation.

    For their remaining time in the United States, the TechGirls will participate in the Wonder Space Tech Camp, hosted on American University's campus. The girls will have the chance to develop hands-on skills, such as programming, robotics, mobile application building, web design, video graphics, and 3D game design. They'll also connect with many players in the growing D.C. tech community, and develop the community projects they'll carry out when they return home.

    It has been an absolute blast getting to know our inaugural group of TechGirls. The Department of State, like the great team behind Girls Who Code, recognizes the importance of inspiring young women to pursue educational and professional opportunities in the science and technology sphere. TechGirls is proving to be a fantastic exchange program for these young women, providing emerging talent with the skills and resources to pursue their dreams.

    Stay engaged with TechGirls on Twitter and Facebook.

    Suzanne Philion serves as the Senior Advisor for Innovation in the Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs.


  • Celebrating 40 Years of Title IX: Getting Girls & Women in the Game!

    When I was growing up in Long Beach, California in the 1950s and ‘60s, it never occurred to me that I would not be treated equal to my brother, Randy, and would not have the same opportunities as boys to succeed. I learned to play tennis on public courts and became a playground instructor and student-athlete at California State College in Los Angeles. I am a pre-Title IX athlete and did not receive any financial assistance for college. I had two jobs and thought I was living the good life. But nearby my male counterparts, Stan Smith and Arthur Ashe, had full athletic scholarships to play tennis at USC and UCLA.

    Four decades ago on June 23rd, the academic, athletic and professional fields of America were forever changed with the passage of Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972.  This was a critical moment in our Nation’s history that I, and millions of girls and women like me, will remember and celebrate.

    “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 education program or activity receiving Federal financial assistance.” Those 37 words not only gave girls and women millions more opportunities to compete on an equal playing field in sports, they also empowered us to compete in any field throughout the course of our lives.

  • Observing 40 Years of Title IX

    This week marks the 40th anniversary of Title IX, the landmark legislation that changed the playing field for girls across the nation. With its 37 simple words, Title IX opened up a world of new opportunities ranging from athletic participation to access to education in science, technology, engineering, and math. In the years since the enactment of Title IX, athletic participation has increased over 1000%, creating more confident, empowered, and inspiring women to fuel the innovation and advancement of America. The Obama Administration is dedicated to furthering the 40 years of progress that Title IX has paved for us, from the $4.25 billion Race to the Top competition to close the STEM gap for girls, to honoring hardworking student-athletes like the Texas A&M University Women’s Basketball Team at the White House.

    This Wednesday, June 20, the Council on Women and Girls will be hosting an event to mark the 40th Anniversary of Title IX. Valerie Jarrett, Senior Advisor to President Obama & Chair of the Council on Women & Girls, and Tina Tchen, Chief of Staff to the First Lady and Executive Director of the Council on Women and Girls, will be joined by a group of notable advocates and leaders in the field to discuss the past, present, and future effects of Title IX.

    To gear up for our celebration, we’ll be hosting a Twitter forum with the National Women’s Law Center on Tuesday, June 19 at 3:00 p.m. Eastern. Use the hashtag #WHTitleIX to share your thoughts and stories about Title IX.

    You can also tune in on Wednesday, June 20 at 2:00 p.m. to to participate in our event and join the discussion live on Twitter at #WHTitleIX!

     Avra Siegel is the Deputy Director of the White House Council on Women and Girls.