Degree Name

MA in Intercultural Service, Leadership, and Management

First Advisor

John Ungerleider


The word self-esteem is described as a realistic respect for or favorable impression of oneself; self-respect. It is a very simple definition, yet the creation of self-esteem is a very complex process that takes positive reinforcement from family and peers as well as a strong sense of self-worth. Without the presence of these factors there is a high chance for developing a poor self-esteem that in turn can increase risky behaviors and poor decision-making.

This study focuses on self-esteem in young girls and the benefits of having girls’ empowerment programming. The research is based off of three 6-week programs conducted at three separate schools in West Virginia. This includes: 25 girls from Lincoln County High School, 8-10 girls from the Harts Primary Afterschool Program, and 8 girls from the Midway Elementary School. I met with the groups at Lincoln County High School and Midway Elementary school once a week for 45-minute workshops. At Harts Primary School I met with the girls once every other week for 45-minute workshops.

The topics and materials presented to the students were from The Dove Campaign for Real Beauty and the uniquely ME! curriculum. The topics that were focused on were self-esteem, body image, how women are portrayed in the media, and healthy relationships. The activities included worksheets and discussion topics geared towards making participants think critically about beauty ideals, choosing positive role models, and maintaining healthy relationships. Findings are based off of observations, self-evaluations and program evaluations completed by the participants at the end of the program.


Gender and Sexuality | Inequality and Stratification