Continuing with this week's gender theme, we're joined today by Audrey Borden, founder of MyGiftedGirl.com. She answers a few questions about her website:
GE: Why did you decide to start My Gifted Girl, and why did you choose to focus on the female half of the gifted population?
Borden: Once my oldest daughter was evaluated and I was told she was gifted, like many parents would, I started looking for resources and information in several books and online. Of course I saw all the exciting academic advantages about how great it is to be gifted. Then, even more prevalent in my research, were the challenges gifted girls and women face. Alarms went off in my head when I read about the tendency to "dumb down" to fit in, substance abuse, depression, promiscuity, and the list continues. I started thinking back on my life experiences, the amazing ones and the challenging times, and it was a revelation. I started learning more about myself and understanding why I felt the way I did as a kid, teenager, adult, mother, wife, and businesswoman. I felt like, "Oh now it all makes sense."
As I thought about all the good things in my life, the successes and what pulled me through tough times, one common thread was clear. Mentors! My Gifted Girl is really about the mentoring that can go on through our message boards and the outreach that will come as we grow.
I decided to first focus on gifted girls and women because I have two daughters, I am one, my mother is and so is my grandmother. It's sort of a female trait in our family! Through my research as a parent, I found that our group had a few extra challenges to overcome and also use to our advantage. I felt we needed a resource that can be better accessed by all whether it's a girl who is exploring careers, a mom who is trying to understand her daughter, or a woman who is looking to network.
We have future plans to launch My Gifted Guy. Stay tuned!
GE: How has "business" been since you launched?
Borden: We got off to a great start in July through involvement at the SENG (Supporting Emotional Needs of the Gifted) Conference in Orlando, FL. My Gifted Girl was a sponsor and I felt validated by the reaction the participants had to our event booth. We are growing daily and that is exciting.
Members love our logo and so our logo items have been popular. The "g" represents pride in our talents and community.
I've learned that LinkedIn and Facebook are a large extension of our site with many members involved on our Fan Page too. I'm also enjoying my fellow gifted Twitter community. Between the My Gifted Girl site members, the supportive Fans on the My Gifted Girl Fan Page and our LinkedIn Group we've reached 700 girls, women, parents and educators in less than three months.
We have community forums for all students elementary to college. We have parent, teacher, and forums for all women. Our forums exist for us to support one another, network and share ideas.
GE: What has surprised you most about trying to build a community of gifted girls and women?
Borden: The "impostor syndrome" is real for many gifted women. I hear this common challenge from members and individuals I meet in the community. I felt this most intensely in my twenties after graduate school. I was working for a chemical company and amazed myself at how much I could learn, handle, be given, and accomplish. I couldn't understand sometimes why I'd be able to do all of this and that it shouldn't be real. Sometimes I didn't give myself enough credit. Self confidence is vital to our continued success as gifted women. I've learned more about myself as a gifted woman through this process. I have a lot of freedom in my life for my endeavors and my family. I want to share my gifts with others.
GE: Have you learned anything from My Gifted Girl that's been important in your own advocacy in Palm Beach?
Borden: My degree is in political science and I have a masters in public administration. I have learned that through my passion to help gifted girls and women, I get to be involved at a local level in advocacy. I am part of an enormous group effort in Palm Beach County to make changes in our new curriculum that has been implemented this '09-'10 school year. The new format is described as unified curriculum framework: scope and sequence with embedded assessments school district wide. The change was very poorly communicated and received. This is seen as a "one size fits all" curriculum. This type of educational program is not only detrimental to gifted students, it is negatively impacting students with learning challenges and English language challenges.
My goal is to use my experience and passions and be a national advocate for gifted education needs. I am always one to dig down to root cause problems. I'm learning so much and it's exciting.
GE: What's on the horizon for My Gifted Girl over the next year--any new features or projects?
Borden: We are in the process now of assessing where we will expand to serve more and be flexible to go where we are needed with our scope to meet the needs of our community. My goal is to conduct more gifted girls and women-focused seminars and conferences both face-to-face and via web. This week we had a teleconference about "Just Right Books" for Gifted Kids.
I would like to see corporations involved in supporting these girls and women and I would like input from members in our forums. I see more mentoring outreach in our future and even more advocacy!