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Be A Leader When You Grow Up

If you are in life stage: Working Hard for No Money Posted May 29th, 2013
By Kathryn Sollmann

When women are spending time out of the workforce, much of their volunteer work—and home work—nurtures children. When I read Stacey Epstein’s Inc. magazine article, “Raise Your Daughters to be Leaders”, I was reminded that we can all play a role in nurturing future women leaders in our local and global communities and in our own homes.

My guess is that most young girls now have enough role models to give them a wide range of ideas about what they can be when they grow up. Our daughters have  female pediatricians (mine was a man), they have heard about women running for president (not a remote possibility during my childhood) and they know that many moms work hard in many professions and volunteer roles.

The question is whether young women will always have the confidence to make their dreams realities. Despite the many positive role models, young women still need encouragement to take the reins and lead.  Young girls still may not speak up in class as frequently as boys, vie for leadership positions in school or negotiate fair compensation and promotions as they begin careers.

When Sheryl Sandberg of Facebook (and “Lean In” fame) addressed 2013 graduates on her Huffington Post blog, she noted, sadly, that millennial women are less likely than their male peers to characterize themselves as “self-confident” and “leaders.” This may be one of the reasons, she said, that at the top fifty colleges, despite women comprising more than half of the student population, less than a third of student government presidents are women.

We can continue to read these sobering facts or we can do something to foster change. Volunteer work is centered around a good cause, and in my opinion, one of the most admirable missions we can join is instilling greater confidence in the next generation of women. I encourage you to read the article, and think of the six tips as you guide girl scouts, volunteer in classrooms, coach sports teams, and prod little ballerinas to take the stage.

You will find that all six tips are simple reminders that can lead to profound, lifelong empowerment. I relate especially to Tip #1, which advises you to tell young women they are capable of anything. That’s a message my own mother gave me—over and over again. I didn’t always go charging toward the leadership role, but I could always talk myself into trying—and often succeeding—just because my mother and other influential women in my life said I could.  —KAS

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