“How to lead like a woman? Be the woman you needed as a girl”
It’s the 21st century and we still live in a male-dominated society. Although there has been many efforts and advancement for women around the world, we are still years away from closing the gender gap globally.
217 years to be exact, according to the World Economic Forum.
While boys have long been well-served by a plethora of male role models in politics, film, literature, technology, medicine, engineering, and nearly every other industry, the female gender have not had the same luxury.
There are still far less women represented in STEM fields. It was only a few decades ago where women didn’t have to pretend to be men to be published. Not to mention, the right to vote!
Role models do matter. They are considered our roadmaps for success. Girls need to see that “people like them” are succeeding so that they can believe it too. That’s why it is important for us, as women, to support our young girls and contribute to their successes as much as we can.
If you are looking for some creative ways to pay it forward, paving the way for our young girls is an excellent avenue to do so. Here are four simple ways any woman can contribute to girls’ success, no matter when and where.
Be A Role Model
Here’s the good news: We don’t have to obtain an education to be a role model. It is already an innate characteristic within us.
Leading by example is one of the most effective ways to influence impressionable young girls in our community to do better and be better. It’s in our human nature to look up to someone that may be older and wiser. They can come in the form of your duties as a big sister, a soccer coach, a reading instructor, or even as a dance mom! To lead like a woman, we have to be willing to start with ourselves and be accountable for what we say, what we do, and how we act. Be true to ourselves and be transparent about our actions so that girls can learn from us. It’s also our responsibilities as a role model to support their passions, champion their dreams, and celebrate their wins as they slowly begin to develop their sense of self.
If you are looking to volunteer your time, these following international organizations are spectacular ones to be a part of in your community: Big Brothers and Big Sisters, Girl Guides, Girls Who Code, Boys and Girls’ Club, and Girls Inc.
Deliver An Interactive Junior Achievement Program
Junior Achievement is an international non-profit organization with a mission to “inspire and prepare young people to succeed in a global economy”. They offer educational programs starting as young as Grade 5 which focus on three pillars: Financial Literacy, Work Readiness, and Entrepreneurship. These programs are delivered in school through local volunteers within each city,
This is unique because students can hear first-hand from role models within their own communities about their experiences, and it also allows volunteers to be “teacher for the day” as they have control over the curriculum that is being delivered! As women leaders, we can influence and shape their perceptions about women in the workplace and encourage them to take up leadership roles at a young age.
Encourage Mentorship and Collaboration In The Workplace
Did you know that only 8.5% of the highest-paid positions in Canada’s top 100 listed companies are held by women? And that women only comprise of 19.5% of board members for Canada’s top 500 companies?
As women, we have to stick together in the workplace. Fact is, we are under-represented in the highest levels of most industries, and we currently still earn less than a man. The future generation of girls shouldn’t have to continue to endure that.
Since the majority of us do work with young women who may have recently graduated from high school, college, or university, it’s important to take the time to mentor them, look out for them, and be an ally for them. Invite them out to coffee, let them shadow you, and offer any opportunities for professional development that will advance their skills. We need more future women sitting at the table! Mentors have a profound impact on youth. If you recall from your childhood or adolescence, your career aspirations most likely formed when you met someone you could relate to and admired for what they do.
These girls aren’t our competition, they are our future.
Change Your Language
We grew up in an era where girls are described as “bitchy” and “overbearing” but boys are “assertive” and “protective”. Why is that?
Language is everything. The words we choose to use in our speech and text are what children pick up on and copy. We shouldn’t stereotype gender. It’s up to us to eliminate that negativity so that girls feel confident in what they feel and do.
A girl will throw like a girl. A boy will throw like a boy. Let’s not compare girls to boys as if girls are inferior, but instead compare them as equals. Encourage girls to embrace their “feminine” qualities rather than emulate masculinity.
Girls aren’t bossy, we are ambitious.
Girls aren’t sensitive, we are compassionate.
Girls aren’t stubborn, we are determined.
Changing our language is one of the easiest actions we can take now. Here are more phrases we need to cut out!
To lead like a woman, it’s no longer about fitting in. It’s about being bold, innnovative, and inclusive. There can never be a shortage of role models for young girls to look up to. Together, let’s raise a generation of female leaders of today and tomorrow.
What are your favorite ways to support girls in your community?
Seeing people succeed while doing what they love fires her up like no other. Aside from being the co-founder of DiscoverHER Project, Jess is a meeting planner by day and a wedding planner by night. Jess is passionate about giving girls and women around the world the same tools she used to get to where she is today. She believes in wearing her heart on her sleeve, doing everything out of a place of love, and empowering people around her to do the same. When she isn’t in front of a screen, she’s most often found eating tacos, wandering around a book store, or off exploring the world.