Urban Girls Revisited: Building Strengths

Urban Girls Revisited: Building Strengths

Urban Girls Revisited: Building Strengths

Urban Girls Revisited: Building Strengths

Synopsis

"Offers a significant contribution to the field of gender and adolescent development. Using cutting edge theory and research, it opens windows into the lives of a diverse group of adolescent girls. By emphasizing the social context of these girls' lives, the contributors illustrate the complex interplay between individuals and the relationships with which they engage and the choices they make. - Lauren E. Duncan, Smith College Urban Girls, published in 1996, was one of the first volumes to showcase the lives of girls growing up in contexts of urban poverty and sometimes racism and violence. It spoke directly to young women who, often for the first time, were seeing their own stories and those of their friends explained in the materials they were asked to read. The volume has helped to shape the way in which we study girls and understand their development over the past decade. Urban Girls Revisitedexplores the diversity of urban adolescent girls' development and the sources of support and resilience that help them to build the foundations of strength that they need as they enter adulthood. Urban girls are frequently marginalized by poverty, ethnic discrimination, and stereotypes suggesting that they have deficits compared to their peers. In fact, urban girls do often "grow up fast," taking on multiple adult roles and responsibilities in contexts of high levels of adversities. Yet a majority of these girls show remarkable strengths in the face of challenges, and their families and communities provide many assets to support their development. This new volume showcases these strengths. Contributors include:Michelle Fine, Nancy Lopez, Richard Lerner, Jean Rhodes, Janie Ward, and Ritch Savin-Williams.

Excerpt

Niobe Way

In response to an absence of girls and women in psychological research, researchers began in the early 1980s, with Carol Gilligan and her students from the School of Education at Harvard University leading the way, to investigate the development of girls and women. This research highlighted girls' and young women's strengths and strategies of resistance to conventions of femininity and the ways in which cultural constructions of gender shape girls' and women's development (Brown & Gilligan, 1992; Jack, 1991; Gilligan, 1982; Taylor et al., 1995). The focus on the development and strengths of girls and women was radical in a field that had long been dominated by the study of boys and men and by a perspective that pathologized girls' and women's development. In the midst of this dramatic shift, psychological researchers also began to note other critical absences in the research on human development. Primary among these was a lack of developmental research on girls and women who were part of ethnic minority and/or poor and working-class communities. Although social science research was being conducted with Black and Latino girls and women from poor and working-class communities, the vast majority of these studies were problem oriented, focusing on issues such as teenage pregnancy, dropping out of school, and drug use.

By the mid-1990s, however, the situation began to change. A small but significant series of studies began to emerge that focused on the development and strengths of girls and women from ethnic minority and/or poor and working-class communities. In response to this work, Bonnie Leadbeater and I decided to edit a book together that showcased the best of these studies. We were interested in including work in this volume that revealed the ways in which urban girls and young women, in particular . . .

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