Mentoring Boosts Women’s Leadership Skills

Are women ready to lead?  What are the factors in young girls lives that either support or block them from leadership aspirations?  A recent report from Girls Leadership digs into these very questions.

Leadership

Written by: Kelly Fisher

25.09.2020

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On August 19th 2020, Kamala Harris accepted the nomination for vice president of the U.S.  It was a historic moment for many reasons, but especially because Harris would be the first ever black woman to serve as vice president.  Although Hillary Clinton lost in 2016, and it remains uncertain who will win this fall, it is still significant that for many girls who are growing up in the U.S. today they are able to see themselves in Hillary or Kamala, and aspire to positions of leadership.  

While we can certainly celebrate this milestone with the nomination of Kamala, it is important to place it in a larger context as well.  It is clear that there are many disparities that exist today about the proportion of women in leadership positions compared to men in both political office, and the workplace.  Additionally, due to a variety of factors including class, race, sexuality, and other factors, women experience different barriers and challenges.  What are some of these different challenges, and how do women and girls overcome them? 

This is the question that a recent report from Girls Leadership, an organization dedicated to gender equality in the U.S., seeks to answer with a focus on black and latinx girls in the U.S.  They conducted interviews with over 2,000 girls’ parents, and 600 teachers to identify what factors are supporting and blocking girls’ leadership developments and aspirations. 

While there are many interesting and important takeaways and findings in this report, one particularly stood out.  The importance of mentors and role models for girls in developing their leadership skills and aspirations (see page 25 of report).  The report found a high correlation between those girls who saw themselves as ready to lead, and who had a mentor in their life.  This type of research finding is particularly exciting as we at SHE Community prepare to launch our Mentor program, and recognize the role mentoring plays in women’s leadership development. 

The report highlighted important actions that should be taken as well.  Included were the need for research to be diverse in who it studies, in particular when it comes to women.  Often research has looked at white, middle class women, and the barriers this group faces may be different than those that others face.

The whole report is important, fascinating, and inspiring, and worth reading further here.