Girls Leadership believes girls have a running start when it comes to leadership. Talk to any young girl and she can tell you what is unfair in her world, and how she wants to make a difference. Years of groundbreaking research shows that girls across the United States see themselves as leaders, aspire to a life of impact, and are practicing the skills to do it well.
So why, in 2021, when girls have so many choices, are they still learning to trade in their voices in the name of compliance, belonging, or — in some cases — safety?
The answer isn’t simple; for some girls the barrier is within, for others it is external, for many it is a mix of both…but all paths lead back to the adults in girls’ lives. For the past 30 years, the collective approach has been to empower girls, but this approach is not working; girls are still experiencing the same social pressures. Case in point? Girls Leadership’s parenting webinars often start by asking, “How are girls in your culture expected to look and act?” The top three answers from thousands of parents are: polite, likeable, and pretty. Strong, brave, and smart are on the list, but they never make it to the top. Girls Leadership believes that the onus is on adults, the ones perpetuating the socialization of our kids every day.
Since 2009, Girls Leadership has worked to combat these social pressures through innovative programming grounded in social and emotional learning (SEL). They give girls the skills to stay connected to themselves, their feelings, thoughts, needs, and beliefs, and also provide professional development and parent education workshops that speak to a different and more impactful approach: Girls Leadership believes that it is the responsibility of the influential adults in girls’ lives — parents, caregivers, educators, coaches, program staff — to learn how to center girls, create brave spaces for girls to thrive, and preserve the self-trust girls are born with. When adults do this work, girls’ true leadership potential can be realized.
To instill this strategy across systems and impact hundreds of thousands of girls across the country, on International Day of the Girl (October 11, 2021), Girls Leadership announces three new partnerships that will help national brands with great influence over girls and the adults in their lives. These partnerships all provide tools to listen to girls, center their needs, and give adults, teachers, gymnastics coaches, and basketball coaches the support, skills, and training to send a new message to girls:
Mattel funded qualitative research to enable Girls Leadership’s Girl Advisory Board to interview 140 elementary school-age girls across the country on what it means to be a girl today (download the research report). Mattel also sponsored Girls Leadership’s first elementary school partnership to co-create curriculum with young girls, most of whom are girls of color and low-income. This curriculum and the teaching methods that support it will become a national professional development curriculum and training to teach and cultivate the power and influence of the youngest girls.
During a time when elite gymnasts are calling for leadership to do better to protect girls, Destira and Girls Leadership are leading the charge to make gyms a safe, supportive space, where girls’ voices become as strong as their muscles. Starting October 11, 2021, a special collection of Destira x Girls Leadership “All Kinds of Powerful” leotards will be available for sale. Proceeds from this partnership will fund workshops for the gymnastics coaching community on how to foster safe, healthy environments where girls speak up for themselves and their teammates.
Her Time To Play
Girls Leadership will partner with Her Time To Play, a national initiative created by the NBA and WNBA that aims to inspire the next generation of girls to play basketball in a positive and healthy way, to build on the program’s commitment to helping participants ages 7-17 develop as leaders in their communities and connect with one another through the game. As part of the partnership, Girls Leadership will create a comprehensive Her Time to Play curriculum and training opportunities for coaches in an effort to encourage young women to use their voices, take care of their mental health and wellbeing, and support their teammates on and off the court.