Speak Up! Girls for Negotiation

18 Sep

This is one of two articles on PROGRESS’s inaugural workshop in Washington DC.  The first article looks at the Institution and concept behind PROGRESS. The second article will describe the workshop and its impact on the participating girls here in Washington DC – written by Jenneth Macan Markar

In a society where young girls are targeted by the media as viable consumers of materialism and women learn to comply with what is expected of them as opposed to what they want or can achieve, PROGRESS stands out as a program intended to effectuate a positive change in society by helping women and girls learn to make better decisions for themselves through negotiation. Teaching “Negotiation skills” are the hallmark of the Program for Research and Outreach on Gender Equity in Society (PROGRESS) developed at the Heinz College of Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.

The inspiration behind the workshops developed by PROGRESS is to teach young girls the skill of negotiation, to enable them to make better life style decisions and grow up to be successful women.

PROGRESS is holding a workshop in Washington DC for young girls for the first time at the end of September. The workshop titled “Speak Up” will be a half day program with food, games and activities along with entertainment by the Georgetown University Step Team and Batala Washington. Molly Barker, Founder of Girls on the Run International will be the keynote speaker at the conference.

In the past 4 years since the program has been in operation in several communities in Pittsburgh, girls between the ages of  7-12 participating in half day workshops have been taught negotiation skills in a fun way. The workshops have been held with the help of facilitators from within the community, who are trained by Progress staff prior to the workshop. It is hoped that through the adoption of these skills the girls will learn how to make better life choices by creating positive options for them regarding their safety, health, education, future relationships and jobs. Progress workshops focus on girls from low income and marginalized communities as well as at schools that have the capacity to conduct similar workshops themselves.

The curriculum which is taught to the girls was developed by Ayana Ledford, Executive Director of PROGRESS and Professor Linda Babcock, the James M. Walton Professor of Economics at Carnegie Mellon, based on 20 years of  research on gender roles and negotiation which she and her co-author explore more fully in their book “Women Don’t Ask”. Ayana Ledford, the Executive Director of Progress conducts programming and community outreach. Currently PROGRESS conducts research, carries out advocacy projects and implements workshops. The newest long term initiative by PROGRESS is a continuing education program for professional women called the Heinz Negotiation Academy for Women, which is to start in January of 2013.

Although PROGRESS has had many workshops in Pittsburgh this is the first time in Washington DC. Heinz College has a branch here in DC and it seems like the natural step up for PROGRESS to expand its work. Similar to the workshops conducted in Pittsburgh the program will work with girls and community volunteers as facilitators.

Currently PROGRESS has just started a three-year long collaboration with the Consortium for Public Education in McKeesport, PA to track the girls that they work with in this program for several years and study how the workshop has influenced their decision-making. In the future Progress hopes to develop the capacity to conduct follow up programs to follow the progress of all the girls over the years and study the long term impacts of workshops such as this.

Workshop date in Washington DC: Saturday, September 22, 2012

Time: 8:30 AM – 1 PM

To register, call 412.268.8650 or go online to progress.heinz.cmu.edu and click on the banner ad titled “Speak Up!”

To find out about sponsorship and advertising opportunities please contact Rachel Koch at rakoch@andrew.cmu.edu.    (412) 925-6741

Facebook page: Progress CMU

Twitter account: @PROGRESSatCMU

 

–Jenneth Macan Markar

Jenneth is a Washington DC based gender and development consultant with a Law degree from the University of Colombo in Sri Lanka and a Master in International Affairs from Columbia University in New York. Originally from Sri Lanka she formally worked at Global Action to Prevent War in New York on Women, Peace and Security issues. She can be contacted at jennethm@gmail.com.

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