Girls Inc. of Alameda County partnered with the San Francisco Bay Area chapter of Advancing Women in Transportation (“WTS”) and the Brave Sis Project to introduce our eleventh and twelfth grade girls to careers in transportation and ways of thinking about equity and access for women of color. The girls took a virtual field trip where they asked questions and learned about what it means to be a woman of color in the workplace. They then journaled and reflected on their intentions and goals for their own future.
The field trip began with a group Jamboard around the question, “what do you want your life to look like in 10 years?” The girls collaboratively reflected on the shared document and wrote down their dreams for the future, some of which included being able to make a difference, having happiness in a career choice, graduating from college, being able to provide and support for a family, and building a strong sense of identity and community.
From this activity the group was guided into a discussion with WTS. WTS focuses on strengthening the transportation industry by providing a network focused on creating equity and access for women in the field. The girls heard from members on what it means to be a woman of color working in transportation. Speakers discussed their backgrounds and the varying paths they took that led them to their passions. The problems of inequity in transportation related to unequal access to affordable transportation, the experience of traveling through the city as a woman of color, and the historical exclusionary design of public spaces, were some of the motivating factors that encouraged the speakers to enter the field. Problem solving for questions like these, is one reason why it is so important to have women in fields that they have been historically excluded from. The girls asked questions around how the speakers navigated the pivots and changes in their career path and how they deal with working in a predominantly male dominated field. The speakers spoke to the importance of adaptability and consistently checking in with yourself and your truths.
After meeting with WTS, the girls were led into an activity and discussion with Rozie Kennedy, the creator of Brave Sis Journals. The journals that Rozie created, encourage girls to keep track of whatever makes sense to them whether it be to-dos, possibilities, promises, priorities, gratitudes, and dreams, in order to take time to center their own well-being and care. The book features the experiences of historically noteworthy women of color, with lots of space for girls to write about their own reflections alongside the illustrations and stories of other women. WTS and Brave Sis sent journals to each of the girls before the field trip so they could begin writing. When asked what the girls might like to keep track of in their new journals, one girl mentioned keeping track of her relationships, another mentioned music that she enjoys, and another participant talked about documenting this time in her life as she prepares to begin her college journey.
The field trip ended with a discussion of the importance of committing to and investing in yourself with love and joy. Rozie highlighted the importance of not letting other people say who you are, because you know who you are at your core. Journaling allows you to write down your own personal truths—in order to continue the journey of learning to love and define yourself on your own terms. The strength and happiness that is created from those truths, provides a centered space for girls to be able to learn to love themselves fully and explore their identity safely. 95% of Girls Inc. high schoolers agreed that they “participate in activities and programs at Girls Inc. to explore my cultural identities/who I am.” Field trips like these are an essential part of Girls Inc. programming, focusing on identity exploration and socioemotional learning. Thank you WTS and the Brave Sis Project!