When people say, "We need to educate our girls," they're often referring to the importance of teaching them math and science. But we also need to educate our girls about their own power.
As a society, we have done an exceptional job of educating boys on their responsibility to others. We teach them that they are strong, that they can do anything. We tell them that they can be whatever they want to be, and we offer them role models who show them how to be good men.
But what about our girls? How do we ensure that all girls know what is possible for women? That they know how important it is for them to make an impact on the world? How do we empower them to be strong, courageous and compassionate?
Encourage them to demand more for themselves and the world
When I think about how we can make sure that all girls know what is possible for women, I think about the two questions I ask my daughters: “What is your responsibility to other people?” and “What are you responsible for?”
I want them to understand that being a woman is not an excuse to be passive or complacent. It’s an opportunity to be active and compassionate.
When we talk about what it means to be a good person, I tell them that their actions have consequences — both positive and negative — for others. And when they take on leadership roles, they have an even greater responsibility as role models.
A recent study of over 1,000 young women found that only a quarter of them believe that women can have it all. The rest believe that the only way for women to have a successful career is to sacrifice their personal life, or vice versa.
This is simply not true. Women can have it all — if they know how to find their own path and don't buy into the myth that there's only one way to be successful.
Look for positive examples and role models in their daily life
A second step in building girls' confidence is making sure they know what's possible for women.
If you're reading this blog, then you've already taken the first step toward helping your daughter or student see what's possible for women. Share stories of other women who have succeeded in fields traditionally dominated by men — science, technology and math (STEM).
Talk about what inspires you personally and show her why it inspires you. Show her different paths available to her by talking about things you love doing together — whether it's baking cookies or playing baseball.
Share amazing stories about incredible women through books, the web and our trailblazer craft kits
We have to make sure that all girls know what is possible for women. And the only way we can do that is by sharing amazing stories about incredible women through books, the web and other media. We can challenge stereotypes and help girls see themselves as leaders, scientists and artists. We can help them understand that anything is possible when they work together with other girls.
We have to tell girls that they are smart and strong and brave. We have to tell them that they can be anything they want to be.
We have to make sure they know that it's okay if they don't fit into the boxes that were created for them by other people. We have to let them know that there are many different ways to live life, even if those ways don't look like what's expected of girls at their age.
Ultimately, we hope that this post will inspire parents to help the girls in their lives know that amazing things are possible for women, and that they can be those women. There are countless ways, big and small. We just want more and more girls to know that they are able to reach for the stars when they dream and believe in themselves. And we want all girls to know that they matter.