Editor’s Note: Get To Know CoFounder Uto

Many of you have asked that we share more about ourselves with you. We think it’s a great idea and would definitely love any opportunity to connect with you even more. So here we go! Co-founder Uto Ifudu is up first.

Although she hangs out mostly behind the scenes,  she helps put this newsletter together every week. Most importantly, she is leading our efforts to bring girl friendly math curriculum to you and your smart girls! Enjoy this peek into who Uto is and how she was raised. If you have any more questions, don’t hesitate to reach out or leave a comment.

1. What do you do?

I’m an IT Risk Manager at the World Bank in DC. In this role, I am primarily responsible to assessing various technologies being adopted by the organization to identify potential risks and implement solutions to resolve these issues. 

2. What was your childhood like?

My childhood was fun, fun, FUN! I have very fond memories of playing freely in the neighborhood, family meals filled with lots of laughter, sleepovers with the cousins, and growing up in a secure environment with people around that loved and cared for me. 

3. What are some things your parents/guardians did that you consider critical to your success today?

From a very early age, my parents ensured that my siblings and I had a strong sense of self. They made sure we were confident in our own skin and in our ability to motivate ourselves to do whatever it is we set our mind to. My parents also thought us to be kind, to be content with what we had, to have a sense of respect for others and to be compassionate to others especially those less fortunate than us. We also travelled a lot as a family – taking local trips and some international trips as well which helped shape my worldview.  My parents also made certain decisions and sacrifices so we could have the best education their money could buy, they believed that a sound education was one of the best gifts a parent could give a child. 

4. If you could change anything about your upbringing, what would it be?

If I could change one thing about my upbringing, I would wish that I were closer to my mom during my childhood. My mom was ‘obsessed’ with raising me to be the perfect daughter that sometimes, she was particularly strict with me. Because she was so hard on me, I was so scared of disappointing her and feared her as such, we didn’t have that mother-daughter bond. Thankfully, her efforts paid off and I grew up to be a decent adult (I think). My mom and I have since repaired our relationship and are now very close especially since I became a mom myself and are making up for lost time!

5. What has been your biggest challenge as a woman in finding/defining your path so far?

My biggest challenge as an adult has been in balancing the different roles I have to play as wife, mother, daughter, employee etc. These roles sometimes are in conflict with each other and pursuing success in one area usually comes at a price of sacrifice in another area. 

6. If you had a daughter, how would you raise her to thrive in a world that still presents many challenges for women?

I have been blessed with TWO beautiful daughters and everyday, I try to raise them to be confident, strong and kind hearted human-beings. I want them to have a strong sense of self, to understand the importance of a good education, to be confident in their abilities, and above all dare to dream!

7. What does the Raising Smart Girls platform mean to you?

Raising Smart Girls is the convergence of my passions about education, empowerment and strength of our daughters.  I am especially passionate about the education of the female child. I’m a firm believer that a solid education opens us up to many opportunities, break boundaries and envision our dreams as achievable. Our girls also face a different set of challenges relating to the various roles that society has typecast-ed for them  as such, its essential that we also equip our daughters with the right tools to sift through all the noise that society will throw at them. My goal with the platform is to support parents in raising girls of strong character, empower them to succeed in today’s world and provide them with the tools to create the world in which they want to live in tomorrow. 

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Editor’s Note: Protect Your Joy

 

“Are you having fun?”

That is what my older daughter asked me over FaceTime two days ago.When I am traveling for work, our sweet conversations over video chat at the end of the day are usually small talk about the day and an exchange of silly faces. She has never asked me if I was having fun on my work trip.  I don’t remember what my response was to her but i couldn’t stop thinking about that question. Was I supposed to be having fun? The truth is the 12 days of this month already feels like several weeks have passed. I have so much piled up on my plate at work, home and with my personal goals that all I can think of is getting things done.

How often do we start the year full speed ahead and burn out before the 1st quarter is over? If it is not fun, we end up hating it and if we hate it, we will eventually stop doing it.

I needed the reminder to do things the way I love and not just to check them off the list. I needed the reminder to protect my joy. So in order to still experience joy and strength at the thousandth step of our individual journeys this year, let’s remind ourselves of what we already know we need to do: fuel up, set a steady pace and plan for breaks.

It’s only Jan 12 and thanks to my wise little girl, I have hit the reset button already. Do you need a reset?

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Editor’s Note: You First!

I have a love hate relationship with new year resolutions. I love the energy it brings to every new year as we all gear up to be better and do better. But I hate that feeling at about day 50 in the year when you realize you are way off track.

 

We start off pumped up about our big hairy goal; every year, we are going to start a business, lose the weight, leave the dead end job, exit abusive situations, make new friends, reconnect with old ones, spend quality time with our kids, date our spouses, love our selves. Every. Single. Year.

 

Well, I’ve had it with the false starts so this year I am trying something different. I have picked only one goal for this year. One thing that gets all my energy and focus. One thing that if it’s all I get to check off my list, it will give me the boost I need to take on other challenges.

 

And to support my one thing, I have also picked one word that would serve as my compass when I start to feel myself wander off the path. My word is consistency.

 

And should I start to wander, I also picked a quote to remind me of what I set out to do. This beautiful quote from Goethe gave me the courage to start exploring my passion for writing years ago.

 

 

 

So before we get back to talking about raising our smart girls. Let’s start with you first.

 

What’s your word for 2017? How will you stay on track to achieve your goal?

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Editors Note: Where Did All The Time Go?

 

The day after we got home from the hospital after the birth of my first daughter, I remember feeling very overwhelmed. I wondered if we were adequately prepared to care for the delicate human we were now responsible for. I loved her immediately but I hated what pregnancy had done to my body and the tax on my sanity those early days of no sleep and constant crying. So I wished I could speed up the time. I wanted to get to the coos I had read start at 6 weeks and the smiles that will melt my heart at 3 months and the sleeping through the night at 4 months. Especially after that night at about two and half months when I was practically in tears because she wouldn’t go to sleep and I could hardly keep my eyes open.

Tomorrow,  my baby girl turns five. Really, where did all that time go?

So much is happening so fast. Each day is a new discovery of all the wonderful facets of her budding personality; I have no desire to speed any of this up.

In the quiet moments at the end of the day, after we have celebrated baby girl in all the ways she will appreciate, my husband and I will also celebrate the fact that the little delicate human we brought home five years ago has grown to be both so strong and so kind.

We could not be prouder!

 

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Ps: Thank you so much for your feedback this past week. We loved hearing both your kudos and your ideas. We look forward to your continued support and feedback as we implement some of those ideas!

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Editor’s Note: More To Womanhood

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Every year on my birthday, I make several resolutions for my next year. Today is no different; I have been reflecting all week on what promises i will make myself this time. To do this, I have been browsing through my thought journal for this year. Its nothing fancy, just a digital notepad I occasionally document thoughts that intrigue me. One particular one caught my eye and has now become the basis of this year’s promise to myself.

“Isn’t there more to your womanhood than catering to everyone’s needs?”

It is daring to think that the honorable self giving hallmark of womanhood falls short but it does.

We give others life and spend our lives nurturing those around us; navigating the needs of many different complicated relationships. Yet in the end, we forget to cater to own minds and bodies. We run our homes, boardrooms, soccer fields, PTAs, churches, towns, countries … we do it all and do it very well except, we forget to preserve our health and sanity and strength through loving self-care.

They are so many areas of neglect we so desperately need to consider such as what we eat, how much we sleep, what we affirm to ourselves, who we let in our lives, how much we pile on at a time, the list goes on and on.

As we go about the work of raising our beautiful girls, they will inevitably inherit the desire and capacity to love and care for the people around them. This is great; however, will they also inherit a love for self and a habit of self-care?

This birthday, my promise to myself is a healthy mind and body. I have chosen to be intentional about being my own caregiver over this next year and just as important, I have chosen to be intentional about teaching my daughters to care for themselves.

Will you join me?

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Editor’s Note: Thankful For You!

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Today as we take time to reflect on the goodness and fullness in our lives, particularly the people and things that matter most, we count you as one of our wonderful blessings.

Thank you for allowing us to support you in your parenting journey. Most importantly, thank you for the diversity of voice and thought you and your daughters bring to communities around the nation.

We wish you and your families a happy and safe thanksgiving!

Love,

Abi + Uto

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Editor’s Note: Not Just A Boy Thing

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I have worked in a male dominated industry for over 11 years. Over this period of time, I have gotten so used to being the only female in meetings and on teams that I hardly notice.Earlier this week when someone sent out a group email and addressed it to “Abi and Gentlemen”, I had to pause and chuckle to myself a little (ok maybe it was more like a snicker under my breath :)). In that moment, I felt some pride in being the disrupter of what could have been a discussion among just the “gentlemen”.

Women have been fighting for a long time for more representation at the top levels of leadership and while we have come a long way in taking on leadership and executive roles,  I still see few to no females in those leadership roles that I might aspire to.

Time Magazine recently asked women to write in to tell stories of personal gender barriers experiences and then published several in a feature called “Because I Was a Girl, I Was Told … “ All the stories were moving. Some I could personally relate to. However, the most impactful story were two where their experience with gender inequality came from their own parents.

In one story, a women was told by her father that “women needed a career only until they got married, and nursing and teaching were the only things girls could do” in an attempt to discourage her from pursuing a career as a forest ranger or physician.  Another story was from a woman who overheard her parents discussing whether it was appropriate to give a girl a chemistry set after she asked for it for her 9th birthday.

While we are quick to prepare our children for how brutal the world outside our homes can be, It is important to be very aware of how our well intentioned interactions inside the home impact our daughters as well. Every thing counts; the toys you buy, the colors of said toys (not everything has to be pink), the biases you correct (“no, that’s not just a boy thing”), the dreams you give her permission to have (“you can do anything you put your mind to”), the encouragement to explore ( “no, its too hard for you”), and most importantly the unconditional love you give.

Being a leader is not just a boy thing. Recent studies have shown that women-led companies perform three times better than other Fortune 1000 companies run by men.  The world desperately needs the leader you are raising; your love and support can help her realize how important her impact can be in any field she chooses!

 

 

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Editor’s Note: Ambitious Dreams & Courageous Realities

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img ref: Elle

 

It is not difficult to see how monumental this moment in time is for women’s history. One hundred years ago, we had no voice. On Tuesday, the nation almost elected her first woman president. Despite the politics (and the drama) of the election season. We should all feel so proud of the progress we have made.

Not only are we able to vote but our voices are too powerful and too loud to ignore. Our first major party candidate for president was undeniably qualified to hold the most important office in the land. She gave the boys a run for their money AND she won the popular vote.

We are not too far from that defining crack in the glass ceiling anymore. It is empowering to know that any one of us can and will rise to the occasion again soon. In the meantime,

  • We continue to fight to create a world where our daughters can have more ambitious dreams and live out more courageous realities.
  • We continue to teach our daughters the value of preparation, conviction and inspiration. Whenever we have been able to put a crack in that ceiling, these three are present.

Congratulations to Secretary Clinton for an Historic candidacy and to all the wonderful women that ran for other political offices this year from Carly Fiorina to Kamala Harris to Ilhan Omar.

We are proud of you Smart Girls!

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Editor’s Note: That Kind of Mom

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I distinctly remember the moment I learned we were having another girl. I was so happy. I had always felt girls needed sisters. Our little family of 4 couldn’t be more perfect. However as soon as we started to share the news with friends and family, that enthusiasm was quickly dampened by the numerous responses of “Oh congrats, maybe next time” and “That means you are going to try one more time!” 

I so hated the implication that my life was somehow incomplete without a male child. I hated that even before my little girl was fully formed, I was already defending who she was. 

Knowing that both my girls are being born and raised in a world that still has gender biases and inequality, I know I have to be the kind of mom that empowers my girls to live happy, impactful lives despite all that. 

Most likely, you are that kind of mom too. 

The influence mothers have in raising girls that are confident, competent and that have great character is highly underrated. Consequently, our goal with this platform is to elevate the role of the parent in raising empowered girls. For starters, we do this by summarizing the most productive parenting related conversations, resources and tools in a quick to read and easy to digest format delivered straight to your inbox weekly. 

Over time, we really hope to be a strong, meaningful, supportive community; to truly be that trusted partner that keeps you informed and provides support when you need it along your parenting journey. 

Enjoy our very first issue. I hope you continue this conversation by sending us your thoughts on parenting girls, your successes and challenges so far or send us a high five on our vision or tell us what you would love to see or just respond to say hi!  

I really can’t wait to get to hear from you!

Abi 

Editor, Raising Smart Girls

Ps: Know a friend or two who are raising smart girls as well? Invite them as well!

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