High School girls embrace means
to leapfrog glass ceiling
By Pat Murphy
March 10, 2006
Regional high school girls facing adult decisions converged on
Brooks Hall yesterday to pool experience and master moves of leapfrogging
They shared and heard their possibilities can be boundless.
The glass ceiling may not be shattered but a parade of leaders
who broke through anyway spotlighted how.
More than 50 resource organizations offered the means in workshops
co-hosted by State Senator Jackie Speier and the University of
California-San Francisco (UCSF) National Center of Excellence
in Women's Health.
California Senator Jackie Speier
"The young women who attend this conference are inspiring,"
said Dr. Nancy Milliken, director of the center and vice dean
of UCSF School of Medicine.
"Every day they confront challenges and make complex choices
that can impact their lives for years to come," Milliken
"We believe they have a right to honest information and
genuine support for the promise that is in their hearts, minds
Workshop topics were selected by Youth Steering Committee participants
aged sixteen to 18-years-old.
Discussion ranged from health care access, empowerment, reproductive
rights, nutrition, self-defense and spontaneous dialogue.
Additionally, conference attendees voiced aspirations through
an open mike session of word, performance, and poetry.
Speakers included San Francisco District Attorney Kamala Harris,
San Francisco Fire Chief Joanne Hayes-White, San Francisco Police
Chief Heather Fong, sociologist Bertrice Berry, performance artist
Aya de Leon, attorney and author Francine Ward; and Lateefah Simon,
director of San Francisco District Attorney reentry programs.
A male joined the cavalcade, to not scattered whistles, in the
person of San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom.
Mayor Gavin Newsom
Newsom described the new world facing men.
"The world is passing us by and I say it again - women rule!"
the mayor crescendoed.
"For all of the guys in this room you'd better listen up
"Do you know today... American women are the world's number
one economy? You represent the world's largest economy.
"In 85% of households in this country you are the ones paying
the bills. You are the ones writing the checks.
"But this is what's so scary for a guy like me. Do you know
that 94% of all furniture purchases - you decide, not guys like
me. We have no influence.
"How about vacations? We don't even get to influence where
we go on vacation. Eighty-nine percent of vacations are dictated
and determined by women.
"When it comes to appliances... you know like stoves and
refrigerators and things like that - you represent 88% of those
"But here's what's so ominous, because in the past the guys
dominated these purchases - we dominated computer purchases but
not anymore. A guy like me has no influence. Not anymore. Sixty-six
percent of women determine purchase for computers at their homes.
"And worse - cars. Man that is a man's thing, right? Muscle
cars. Not any longer. Sixty percent of all the cars you decide
what we are purchasing.
"Women's incomes are rising exponentially faster than men's
"Bachelor's Degrees. You're getting more Bachelor's Degrees,
more Ph.Ds than guys."
Newsom singled out areas where men still lead.
"But we still lead in some areas," the mayor added.
"We still lead in drug use. We still lead in absenteeism
from school. We don't do our homework as often as you do.
"I jest but I am here to say we are proud of Jackie Speier,
we're proud of our police chief, we're proud of our fire chief.
"We're proud to be the only city in the country with two
significant leaders in public safety both represented by women.
"How many women run police departments in the United States
or a fire department? It's happening here.
"How many cities have two state senators who both are women?
How many have U.S. Senators both are women? How many have the
leader of the Democratic Party Nancy Pelosi? How many have the
District Attorney that is a woman?
"The best is yet to come - women and girls, you rule!"
San Francisco young women have greater diversity than in most
American cities, a recent study by the San Francisco Commission
and Department on the Status of women.
Some thirty-six percent are Asian, 36% white, 22% white, 22%
Latina, 12% African American, six percent multi-racial, and one
percent Pacific Islander.