Ann Smith PhD is Adjunct Professor at McGill University and Managing Editor for Girlhood Studies: An Interdisciplinary Journal.
How would you define ‘girlhood’?
For me girlhood is the state of being a girl, cisgender, self-identified, trans non/binary, lesbian, queer etc.
Typically, girls are aged 18 and under.
Do you have any anecdotes which you believe summarise girlhood?
When my daughter, who has two brothers, was 4 years of age she said, “ I am a girl and I can do anything I like in the whole world.”
Why do you consider it important to study girlhood?
As it is, half the world’s population is under studied and under valued and we need to remedy this from the ground up, as it were. Studying girlhood makes a difference to this state of affairs now and will do so in the future.
How, and when, did you become involved/interested in girlhood studies?
My partner has long had an academic interest in girlhood and when we met this rubbed off her onto me.
How do you think globalization has affected how we define girlhood?
It has broadened our understanding of what constitutes girlhood in different countries and cultures.
Would you describe girlhood as a construct (social or other)? Please explain.
In some contexts girlhood is a socially controlling construct. For example, in some cultures girlhood ends only with marriage regardless of the age of the girl or woman concerned. Thinking of an adult woman as a girl leads to treating her as a child.
To what extent is the definition of girlhood constructed through inclusivity and plurality?
Please see below.
Girlhood studies is a fairly new field, how do you believe it has changed since it was first established?
It is much broader in terms of recognizing inclusivity, for example, the differences between and among what it means to be an Indigenous girl, a Black girl, a disabled girl and so on and theorizing about this inclusivity and exclusivity. We have more sophisticated theories like transnationalism, intersectionality, post-colonialism, and Southern theory all of which get us away from Global North influence and hegemony.
How do you believe it will continue to evolve over the next few decades?
As above, and when situations and circumstances like Covid-19 arise work on what it means to be a girl evolves.