One of our key findings is that Black and Latinx girls are our most skilled and most ambitious leaders.
Today we are proud to share groundbreaking new research about the leadership of Black and Latinx girls in our report by Dr. Charlotte Jacobs, Ready to Lead.
Our understanding of how race, ethnicity, and ultimately culture impact girls’ leadership identity and leadership skills has radically evolved. This change came out of original research we conducted on the cultural and systemic leadership barriers and supports for Black and Latinx girls.
When Girls Leadership began working with girls almost 20 years ago, we built programs from a body of research, conducted by White women, which centered the experience of White girls. In general terms, this body of work tells the story of learned internal barriers that lead to a loss of voice and confidence at the onset of adolescence. But it was clear from our experiences working with girls and communities that this wasn’t the whole story; as girls of color are now the majority of K–12 girls in the U.S., it doesn’t represent the experience of most girls.
Four years ago we set out to gather a new set of data that tells the more complex, nuanced, and intersectional story of the leadership development of girls of color. To fully understand the results, please download the full report, Ready to Lead, with foreword by Dr. Monique W. Morris.
One of our key findings is that Black and Latinx girls are our most skilled and most ambitious leaders. When many—usually White—people see the data, their reaction is some version of, “So Black and Latinx girls are doing fine!” To answer that, one needs to look at the top leadership of Fortune 500 companies, tech firms, financial institutions, media corporations, sports entities, the education and nonprofit sectors, or any sector, and you will quickly see that there is nothing fine about the leadership of Latinx and Black women and girls. The challenge is different. Internally Black and Latinx girls have significantly higher levels of confidence and leadership skills, but externally they face bias, discrimination, and, in the school environment, punishment and push out.
Our research, which included over 2,000 girls, also included over 600 teachers. The teachers in our survey reflect the make-up of teachers in the U.S., about 80% White women. You can see in the report how teacher bias interrupts the leadership development of Black and Latinx girls in school. For these girls, our most confident, most skilled, and ambitious young leaders, the barrier to leadership is external: it is systemic. This means that we have the power to change it. We hope you’ll join us in this liberating and healing work.
If these findings are new or surprising to you, we hope that you give yourself the opportunity to be changed by them. If you’ve lived these findings every day, and are not surprised at all by this new data, we hope you take solace in the knowledge that you’re not alone in your experience.
Here is how to take action today:
Read Dr. Charlotte Jacob’s report with forward by Dr. Monique W. Morris.
If you are in a position to donate, invest in this work and the training for teachers to create culturally- responsive classrooms that raise up the voice and power of all our girls.
Thank you to our sponsors for their investment in the voice and power of this generation, including lead sponsor Morgan Stanley, as well as Airbnb, Applied Materials Foundation, Billie Jean King Leadership Initiative, Genentech, Harnisch Foundation, Paul Weiss, The New York Women’s Foundation and Vodafone Foundation.