Girls in their tweens and teens have a lot to think about. They often feel isolated and that their circumstances are unique. Finding a way to give girls support will help them to build self-esteem. Since her now famous TEDTALK five years ago, Sheryl Sandberg has been working to help women gain confidence and move the needle forward. Sandberg’s discussion applies not only to women but to girls as well.
Sandberg made a profound statement during her discussion that still holds true today: “Men attribute their success to themselves and women attribute their success to others”. If we look at when this belief about success starts it happens well before women begin their career. Girls are often taught at an early age about team work and giving credit to others and so they pass the success baton to others rather than accepting their own greatness.
When Sandberg was interviewed about what her book LEAN IN would do, she said her hope was that people would think about gender differently. “I believe the world would be a better place if half our companies were run by women and half our homes were run by men. This is about believing in yourself”.
This last concept of believing in yourself starts at an early age and is carried on through high school and beyond. Lean In circles are a great way to build a sense of community for girls. The idea is to create a safe environment where there is peer to peer support allowing them to thrive.
Three ways to help girls LEAN IN
Start a LEAN IN Circle. Sandberg’s non-profit LEAN IN.0RG offers a resource for starting a circle for girls in college. The same ideas can be applied to high school and even earlier in middle school if there is a passionate role model who will help the girls get started.
Discuss why equality matters. Start the conversation early about why girls can do anything they set their minds on doing. For help about what to talk about this guide offers topics and conversations and can be used in a Lean In circle. Content in the guide applies to girls and women and is a great way to begin a dialogue together.
Engage fathers to be an active part of her life. “Girls that have their father involved in their lives have higher self-esteem.” It is important not to overlook the impact that a father can have on his daughter. When there is shared responsibility between parents, girls feel they have broader choices as adults.
We would like to honor Sheryl Sandberg this week and the amazing impact she has had on so many women. We offer our deepest sympathies to her family for the recent loss of her husband.