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Girl's guide to the future: Groups aim to send young women off in the right direction

Girls today are growing up to be scientists, teachers, doctors, musicians, nurturing mothers, and sometimes a combination of these things. The spectrum of opportunity is broader than our great grandmothers could have ever imagined.

Along with those opportunities come additional pressures and expectations, often leading to cliques and increased competitiveness among young women. But many national organizations and local groups like Girls Incorporated and Girl Scouts of America help young women support and follow their dreams by providing focus, structure and, most importantly, confidence.

Girls Incorporated is a national research educational and advocacy group that attempts to inspire girls to be strong, smart and confident.

Our goal is to provide guidance to girls that encourages then to take risks and master physical and emotional challenges, said Teri Bordenave, president and chief executive officer of Girls Incorporated of the Capital Region.

Girls Incorporated operates in more than 50 locations throughout the Capital District. Working together with schools, these organizations provide services to girls between the ages of 6 and 18.

One Girls Incorporated program called Operation Smart fosters girls' skills and interests in science technology, engineering and math. Bordenave said the group recently worked with Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute and the GE Women's Network to expose girls to careers and education in these historically male-dominated areas.

"In fourth and fifth grades, girls tend to outscore boys in areas such as math and science. Then by middle school, those scores tend to dwindle when you add in hormones and the emotional changes of being pre-teens," said Bordenave.

Bordenave said Girls Incorporated receives referrals from parents, teachers, and sometimes the Department of Social Services.

At Girls Incorporated, girls have the opportunity to take part in workshops that extend into FBI training to pharmacy technician clinics.

"It really gets the girls excited about learning, and the results are astonishing. They feel empowered and confident knowing they can do anything," said Bordenave.

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