Project Directors: Fern Marx, M.H.S.M., Sumru Erkut, Ph.D., Jacqueline P. Fields, Ph.D., Jacklyn Blake Clayton, Ed.D.

Raising Confident and Competent Girls is a research-in-action project, which offers a range of resources for middle school educators, parents and youth-service providers including presentations and workshops, consultation, needs assessments, program evaluation and training of workshop facilitators. The middle school years are an important period of transition that requires special kinds of support from significant adults in lives of young adolescents. Schools and youth-serving agencies play an important role in young women's academic achievements, long term aspirations, and resilience in the face of life's challenges. Additionally, gender equity and the recognition of diversity with respect to race/ethnicity, social class, residence, immigration, and language continue to challenge educators and youth service providers.

Our approach to addressing these issues grows out of our research program on Raising Confident and Competent Girls with African American, Caucasian, Chinese American and Puerto Rican middle school-age girls, their teachers and parents. Our training and presentations incorporate the multiple perspectives of the girls, youth service providers, teachers, administrators, school staff, and parents. The strategies we highlight are grounded in the most current research on the developmental needs of girls during early adolescence, gender equity, and racial and ethnic diversity.

Our resources can inform educators, youth service providers, and parents on:

  • Educational implications of middle school girls' biological, cognitive and psychosocial development.
  • Issues of self-confidence for girls, and ways educators, parents and youth-service providers can be of support.
  • Strategies for adults to work together effectively to support girls in early adolescence.
  • Implications of adolescent development for designing youth programs.
  • Resources to teach and lead an increasingly diverse group of youth in a rapidly changing environment.
  • Tools for better communication between schools, parents and youth-service providers.
  • Ways to bridge the home-school culture gap.