Is the World a Friendly Place for Women?

The National Panhellenic Conference is often consulted about negative images women face in their lives. It seems extraordinary that in 2012 we are still confronted with real challenges for women – such as lower pay than our male counterparts and a dearth of women leaders in Congress.

To punctuate both points, we decided to share with you an interesting mission taken up by a woman for women to counter the negative images and stereotypes that surround us in the world.

Miss Representation, a film that is now moving across the country, is sparking a movement of sorts. Filmmaker Jennifer Siebel Newsom wrote, directed, and produced the 2011 Sundance documentary, which explores how the media’s misrepresentations of women contribute to the under-representation of women in positions of power and influence.

Newsom interviews women in powerful and not-so-powerful positions to make the point that pop culture seriously undermines what we can do and how we view ourselves. And it poses the question for an ongoing conversation – are women in this day and age really valued for their brains and their abilities?

The film has spawned a call to action soliciting individuals to host local screenings in their workplaces, universities or schools. Curriculum guides are also available for K-12 schools, universities, colleges and libraries on the film’s website.

There are other useful links brought to us by, including The 2012 Project from the Center for American Women and Politics at Rutgers University  – a non-partisan campaign to encourage more women to run for political office. While women make up 51 percent of the U.S. population, they make up only 17 percent of Congress.

As our nation evolves, so should our discussion about how women fare in all walks of life. NPC is often all too aware of the negativity surrounding women and impediments they face, from specious sorority ranking systems that are often commercialized for profit to stereotyping young women on reality TV with the promise of making them stars.

As one of the largest advocacy groups for women in the nation, NPC is often dismayed to see our own members stereotyped and cast into the same disparaging role over and over again. Sororities have launched leaders in all professional arenas and continue to provide women a network of mentors and leadership opportunities, from undergraduates to alumnae.

Let’s help women realize their full potential. Take a moment this month to visit See if you agree that the time has come to clear the path of all impediments for women in their personal and professional growth. It is, after all, 2012.