Cover image from Sheroes.com
By: Sophie Hurewitz
Women compose just over half of the country’s population and yet only around 19% of Congress (OBrien 2013). Across various American political roles, women account for fewer than a quarter of leaders (OBrien 2013). The underrepresentation of female leadership is embodied across many American industries, not just in the political sphere. For example: women serve as less than 15% of executive officers in Fortune 500 companies, less than 5% of CEO titles in the Fortune 500, and only 24% of school superintendents (OBrien 2013).
Early empowerment of young girls is one of the solutions to this global problem of a lack of female leadership. However, the United Nations Entity for Gender Equality and the Empowerment of Women reports that women also face limited access to the resources needed to shape them into effective leaders. According to the U.S. Department of Education, there are over 25 million K-12th grade girls in the United States. This future generation of leaders has a right to access leadership development opportunities.
1girl directly confronts this challenge through partnerships across the country in numerous communities. 1girl’s leadership-centered curriculum is founded on the idea that an early emphasis on empowerment encourages future success and leadership in women. Michelle Obama’s speech at the 2015 Girl Up Leadership Summit addressed how female education and empowerment during childhood and adolescence “give girls the keys to the world.” Giving girls access to opportunity “transforms not only their lives, but their families, their communities, and their countries,” Ms. Obama said in her speech. Teaching and encouraging young girls to be confident, independent thinkers gives them leadership skills that they will be able to utilize for decades to come.
Early exposure to leadership skills sets up young girls for success. Dr. Jamie Howard, of the Child Mind Institute in New York City, explains that supporting independent thinkers, fostering leadership behaviors over time, and creating meaningful projects and activities is the surest way to encourage the development of leadership in children. 1girl integrates these criteria in its session programming.
The 1girl program offers participants the possibility to shatter boundaries and make a tangible, positive impact in the world around them. 1girl leaders have the opportunity to help make that happen.
“Back to School Statistics: Elementary and Secondary Education.” National Center for Education Statistics, NCES, nces.ed.gov/fastfacts/display.asp?id=372. Accessed 18 Nov. 2017.
“First Lady Michelle Obama on the Importance of Girls’ Education.” Youtube, uploaded by Girl Up, 22 July 2015, www.youtube.com/watch?v=ghY-_4zI5VA. Accessed 18 Nov. 2017.
Girls Leadership, Girls Leadership 2017, girlsleadership.org/about/. Accessed 18 Nov. 2017.
Howard, Dr. Jamie. “How to Raise a Leader.” PBS Parents, PBS 2003-2017, 29 Apr. 2016, www.pbs.org/parents/expert-tips-advice/2016/04/raise-leader/. Accessed 18 Nov. 2017.
OBrien, Anne. “Helping Girls Unlock Their Leadership Potential.” Edutopia, George Lucas Educational Foundation, 30 July 2013, www.edutopia.org/blog/helping-girls-unlock-leadership-potential-anne-obrien. Accessed 17 Nov. 2017.
Polidoro, Ronnie, and Alexa Keyes. “Still a Ways to Go to Close Women’s Leadership Gap.” NBC News, 2017 NBCNews.com, 26 Mar. 2014. www.nbcnews.com/nightly-news/infographic-still-ways-go-close-womens-leadership-gap-n62416. Accessed 18 Nov. 2017. Infographic.
“Strengthening Young Women’s Leadership.” UN Women, www.unwomen.org/en/what-we-do/youth/strengthening-young-women-leadership. Accessed 18 Nov. 2017.
“Women’s Day celebrations with a ‘purpose’!!!!” Sheroes, Applied Life Pvt. Ltd., 8 Mar. 2016, sheroes.com/articles/women-s-day-celebrations-with-a-purpose/MTUzOQ%3D%3D. Accessed 18 Nov. 2017