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Faculty authors of the 2017 Report on the Status of Women and Girls in California pose for a photo with MSMU President Ann McElaney-Johnson (fourth from right) and Geena Davis (center), founder of the Geena Davis Institute on Gender in Media at MSMU.

Faculty authors of the 2017 Report on the Status of Women and Girls in California pose for a photo with MSMU President Ann McElaney-Johnson (fourth from right) and Geena Davis (center), founder of the Geena Davis Institute on Gender in Media at MSMU.

Rising to the challenge

The sixth annual Report on the Status of Women and Girls in California

LOS ANGELES, March 27, 2017 — To stand up for their communities, their families and their futures, women must first stand up for themselves.

This is one of the key takeaways from the release of the 2017 Report on the Status of Women and Girls in California™, a comprehensive compilation of current research focusing on the issues and trends affecting California’s 19.7 million women and girls.

Each year, a public event highlights the year’s key findings and generates discussions among policymakers, experts and community leaders. On March 23, Mount Saint Mary’s convened a forum on women’s health and wellness that showcased local and national experts dedicated to ensuring the physical, mental and spiritual health of women and girls everywhere.

“To take advantage of the opportunities ahead of us, and to rise up to the challenges, we must be healthy, strong and resilient.” University President Ann McElaney-Johnson said. “Resiliency is key to our ability as women to care for ourselves and the communities we serve. Research indicates that health, energy and resilience are deeply intertwined with successful leadership. As a university that prepares leaders, we understand this.”

“We also know that when we improve the lives of women and girls everywhere, we enrich our families and our communities. When we advocate for equality, we seek to break the cycles of bias, poverty and violence against women.”

Academy Award-winner Geena Davis, founder of the Geena Davis Institute on Gender in Media at Mount Saint Mary’s University, also spoke, noting that unconscious gender bias can be seen on screen, too.

“We learn our value by seeing ourselves reflected in the culture,” Davis said. “So, if female characters are one-dimensional, or sidelined, or stereotyped, or hypersexualized on screen — or not there at all — what are we saying to kids? We are teaching kids that women and girls are less important. We’re training them to see that women and girls don’t take up half of the space in the world. And the message is sinking in. Our research shows that the more hours of television a girl watches, the fewer options she believes she has in life.”

Following a pair of health and wellness panels, Mount Saint Mary’s University co-hosted an Architects of Change conversation with Emmy and Peabody Award-winning reporter and producer Maria Shriver.

Shriver moderated a discussion with Academy Award-winner and goop founder Gwyneth Paltrow, and Dr. Roberta Brinton, director of the Center for Innovation in Brain Science at the University of Arizona Health Sciences. The talk focused on the connection between women’s brains and their bodies, and a portion of the proceeds from the event benefit The Women’s Alzheimer’s Movement. 

“Every 66 seconds, a brain is diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease in this country, and two-thirds of those brains belong to women,” Shriver said. “No one knows yet why that is, but that’s something that should be concerning to every woman in this room and to every man who loves a woman.”

“How we treat our body is how we’re treating our brain,” Dr. Brinton said. “Because the brain is so energetically demanding, it is actually affected by what we eat, what we drink, what we do and how we sleep.”

From a mental health standpoint, Paltrow added that one of her goals is to help women feel that their value is internal: “Health is being aware of your body, what it’s capable of and what its limits are,” she said. “It’s different for every single woman…what’s important isn’t my weight, it’s how I feel and how I regard myself.” 

To read and share this year’s Report on the Status of Women and Girls in California™, visit msmu.edu/statusofwomen. The report is created annually by the faculty of Mount Saint Mary’s University, and published by the University’s Center for the Advancement of Women.

On April 8, Mount Saint Mary’s will once again take action on its own report, by hosting Ready to Run™, a nonpartisan campaign training program for women. Women currently account for 22% of seats in the California State Legislature and 19% of the U.S. Congress. This year’s Ready to Run™ training will include a keynote talk by former U.S. Sen. Barbara Boxer.

About the Report on the Status of Women and Girls in California™ 
First issued in 2012, the Report is one of the most authoritative and comprehensive compilations of current research focusing on the issues and trends affecting the more than 19.7 million women and girls who call California home. Its analysis includes demographics; educational attainment; employment and earnings; poverty; media; business leadership; political representation; physical and mental health; violence; and veterans. To learn more, visit msmu.edu/statusofwomen.

About Mount Saint Mary’s University 
Mount Saint Mary’s is the only women’s university in Los Angeles and one of the most diverse in the nation. The University is known nationally for its research on gender equity, its innovative health and science programs, and its commitment to community service. As a leading liberal arts institution, Mount Saint Mary’s provides year-round, flexible and online programs at the undergraduate and graduate level. Weekend, evening and graduate programs are offered to both women and men. Mount alums are engaged, active, global citizens who use their knowledge and skills to better themselves, their communities and the world. msmu.edu

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