Sixteen-year-old Sheridan Taylor says reading The Beauty Myth changed her life. She's organizing the Girl Power Conference August 14th

One young woman isn’t waiting for the world to change, she’s grabbing the reins to make positive changes around her. Sheridan Taylor is organizing an event, the Girl Power Conference, to empower middle school girls and help them achieve their dreams. Luckily, Sheridan has time to tackle such an ambitious project. The teen is on vacation from classes at Townview’s Talented and Gifted Magnet High School.

Sheridan was motivated to take action when she learned that 60% of girls say they experience stereotypes that limit their right to be themselves. While 55% of high school boys say they have “high self confidence,” only 39% of girls make that claim. Sheridan wants to change that.

Sheridan contacted Narcely Ruiz, the outreach coordinator at the women’s center at UT Dallas, who helped her find speakers for Girl Power. Dr. Magaly Spector, UTD’s VP for Diversity & Community Education, will speak about STEM classes (science, technology, engineering and math), Raul Hinojosa, Director of Community Engagement, will share hints on planning ahead for college, and Megan Johnson, a psychology student, will talk about avoiding distractions like unhealthy choices and toxic relationships. The League of Women Voters will advise girls about leadership in school and the community, and there will be a panel discussion for a Q & A session. About 100 girls, parents and educators are expected to participate.

“Like so many other teenagers, I used to be obsessed with appearances,” said Sheridan about why she decided to start Girl Power. “I was constantly checking myself in the mirror and so much of my time was wasted putting on makeup and doing my hair. After my first year of high school, I read The Beauty Myth by Naomi Wolf. She made me realize I had so much more to offer the world than a pretty face.”

“When it came time to choose a project for my Girl Scout Gold Award,” she said, “I chose something close to my heart. I decided to teach girls of all ages what Naomi Wolf taught me. Hence, Girl Power Conference came to be.”

Girl Power is free and will be held Saturday, August 14 from 11 am to 4 pm in the Drama Room at St. Thomas Aquinas Catholic School, 3741 Abrams Road. (Attendees should park in the lot of Abrams to avoid wedding traffic in the Kenwood lot near the church, and volunteers will direct you to the right spot for the conference.) The schedule includes sessions like Finding Your Motivation, Examining the Concept of Beauty and The Girls’ Guide to Getting Ahead in the Classroom. Activities, handouts and raffle giveaways are also planned. Middle school girls, parents and educators who’d like to attend may email Sheridan here.