Encouraging Girls to be Leaders

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There’s a reason we have so few women in leadership positions; they aren’t always encouraged and empowered to step up. Women make up more than half the population, but in the US, they make up only 18.5 percent of congress and 24.2 percent of state legislatures. Ever noticed how boys are encouraged to lead while little girls are often called ‘bossy’? Studies show that the gap in confidence starts around middle school. Here’s how to create a culture where little girls are free to lead.

Ban Bossy

The organization Ban Bossy is on a mission to change the way we describe leaders. While boys are often described as ‘charismatic’ or ‘confident’, girls get the ‘bossy’ label when they have a take-charge attitude. This organization is encouraging parents and educators to be more aware of the language they use when addressing girls so that we can create a culture that encourages young girls to lead.

Even Beyoncé’ added her support with her video: “I’m not bossy, I’m the boss.”

Watch it here.

Build Confidence

Remind your daughters and students every day that they are valued and capable. Resist doing things for them or taking over tasks that they are not doing well; this sends the wrong message. Instead, encourage them and help them to do things themselves.

“That’s for boys’

Ban this phrase from your vocabulary. If she wants to play with mechanical toys and cars, perhaps she will grow up to be an engineer. If she wants to play sports, that’s a great way to learn to be part of a team. In fact, playing a sport or belonging to a club is a great way to encourage leadership.

Don’t always Let Her Win

A good leader is able to overcome adversity; where others see problems, a good leader sees a challenge. As much as you want to shield your children from disappointment or failure, see these as teachable moments that will help them to deal with tough times. Encourage a ‘can do’ positive attitude and be a good example.

Foster Independent Thinking and Decision-making

Wherever possible, encourage your daughters to find their own solutions to problems and to make their own decisions. Of course you will be there to guide them, but try to let them make up their own minds; it shows that you have faith in their abilities.

Love Her Just the Way She Is

This may sound intuitive, but often we tend to validate only those traits that represent the people we want them to be. Recognizing each person’s unique gifts, talents and personality traits for what they are is essential in building self-confidence.

Teach Her About Money

Ensure the she has a good understanding of how to manage her finances effectively. It’s never too early or too late to teach the value of savings, investments and deferred gratitude.

Pursue Passion

Foster passion in all areas of her life and encourage her to follow her heart, to set goals and to create plans on how to achieve them.

Pic by Francisco Osorio

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