Gamma Phi Beta’s philanthropic focus, Building Strong Girls, is helping build the next generation of female leaders. Collegiate and alumnae chapters across North America are providing support to girls in their communities, teaching them leadership skills and empowering them to believe in themselves. This mission is more important today than ever before.
This summer the Harvard Graduate School of Education and the nonprofit Making Caring Common (MCC) released a study on girls’ leadership. What they found is that while leadership opportunities and pathways are more common for women now than in the past, we still have a long way to go before we can close the gap. The study found that both teen boys and teen girls appear to have biases against female leaders and that even mothers of girls prefer boys as leaders instead of girls. Additionally, girls hold and suffer from biases that negatively impact their confidence in their leadership potential, decrease their desire to run for leadership positions and can even have negative effects on their relationships with others.
While these findings are disheartening, the study also provides specific actions that can help us build girls’ confidence and leadership skills. They are:
- Connect girls to leadership opportunities that are meaningful to them.
- Help girls develop specific leadership skills.
- Talk to girls about their fears.
- Encourage girls to lead in collaboration with diverse groups of girls.*
MCC also provides a list of resources and programs that empower girls and promote leadership. There is a long list of opportunities including our philanthropic partner, Girls on the Run.
An additional aspect of the study touches on the media’s impact on girls’ confidence and acknowledges that girls are exposed to stereotypes and demeaning images that can affect their ideas about their leadership potential. But not all media is negative – it seems that this year a few companies are using media to encourage girls to dream bigger, reach higher and unleash their potential. Check out the commercials below to be reminded just how awesome it is to be a girl!
*Weissbourd, Richard and Making Caring Common Team. “Leaning Out: Teen Girls and Leadership Biases.”