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'Status Of Girls' Shows Mixed Results

A collaged picture of a diverse women's face
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A report on the well-being of young women in North Carolina shows overall improvements, but racial barriers still exist.

The analysis from Meredith College, called "The Status of Girls," compiled socio-economic, health and educational data for young women. 

The report found graduation rates for girls keeping pace with that of boys, but girls were not keeping up when it came to enrollment in STEM classes (the acronym refers to classes in Science, Technology, Engineering and Math). Meredith College sociology professor Amie Hess said the data suggest schools should consider changing social cues.

"That means thinking about girls as scientists and mathematicians, and thinking about brown and black young people as students, scientists, mathematicians, thinkers and college students," Hess said.

The data show there are some improvements in social engagement. Girls make up two-thirds of the leadership in student governments at North Carolina's high schools.

But Hess said there are deep gender and racial divides in other social factors. Girls are still far more likely than boys to be victims of bullying and sexual violence.

"A lot of these behaviors are highly gendered and gender-targeted, meaning the kinds of bullying that girls experience is related to their status as females," she said.

While poverty rates and graduation rates are better for girls overall, outcomes are not improving - and in some cases getting worse - for girls of color, according to the report.

Will Michaels is WUNC's General Assignment Reporter and fill-in host for "Morning Edition"
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