You’re most likely familiar with some of the following statistics:
Women are 50.8 percent of the U.S. population.
- They earn almost 60 percent of undergraduate degrees, and 60 percent of all master’s degrees.
- They earn 47 percent of all law degrees, and 48 percent of all medical degrees.
- They earn more than 44 percent of master’s degrees in business and management, including 37 percent of MBAs.
- They are 47 percent of the U.S. labor force, and 59 percent of the college-educated, entry-level workforce.
- They are only 14.6 percent of executive officers, 8.1 percent of top earners, and 4.6 percent of Fortune 500 CEOs.
- They hold just 16.9 percent of Fortune 500 board seats.
- In the financial services industry, they make up 54.2 percent of the labor force, but are only 12.4 percent of executive officers, and 18.3 percent of board directors. None are CEOs.
- They account for 78.4 percent of the labor force in health care and social assistance but only 14.6 percent of executive officers and 12.4 percent of board directors. None, again, are CEOs.
- In the legal field, they are 45.4 percent of associates—but only 25 percent of nonequity partners and 15 percent of equity partners.
- In medicine, they comprise 34.3 percent of all physicians and surgeons but only 15.9 percent of medical school deans.
- In information technology, they hold only 9 percent of management positions and account for only 14 percent of senior management positions at Silicon Valley startups.
(info from AmericanProgress.org)
So how do we change this? We teach our young girls how to be leaders.
In my day to day life, I work in the development of Charter Public Schools. The schools I develop have a strong leadership focus (using the Franklin Covey program, The Leader In Me) and I specifically work with the girls in the school, guiding and inspiring them to create the life they desire instead of living by default. In other words, they are responsible for their future and only they can create the future they desire.
They do this by learning to Lead.
Here are my 3 recommendations on how to guide and inspire Girls to Lead:
- Teach girls their Self Worth is not based on what they look like, how much they weigh, how many followers they have or anything else that has nothing to do with who they are. What IS important is empowering other girls and women. Being fiercely kind. Having a sense of humor. Not gossiping, creating “drama” or judging others (OR THEMSELVES).
- Guide and Inspire girls to know themselves. I’ve experienced so many women saying they feel lost as they age, that they don’t know “what they’re really here for” that they feel as if they continually give away their time and energy to others instead of taking the time needed for themselves. I truly feel this can be remedied at a young age by guiding and inspiring girls to truly KNOW themselves. How do you do this? Ask questions! Give them time to answer! Some questions to consider:
- What are my strengths?
- What are my short term goals?
- What matters most to me and what do I believe in?
- If I wasn’t afraid, I would ______
- What am I grateful for?
- Teach girls to focus on their strengths, not their weaknesses. As children, if we were asked to raise our hands to share that we were a good dancer/singer/friend/writer/reader/etc, everyone would raise their hand! As teenagers, only about half would raise their hand (and most of them would likely be boys) and as adults, hardly anyone raises their hand. There is a slide in the confidence of girls as they grow, and I think this all stems from girls focusing on their weaknesses, and therefore, losing confidence in themselves. It is VITALLY IMPORTANT for girls to recognize their strengths, and magnify them, as opposed to focusing on their weaknesses. As adults, specifically as adult women, WE can help with this!! Teach girls to focus on their strengths and that from there, they will only grow and get stronger. As Marcus Buckingham says:
In closing, I’d like to leave you with this quote from Brigham Young, who summed up perfectly why it is important for girls to be guided and inspired to lead:
“You educate a man; you educate a man. You educate a woman; you educate a generation.”