I’m a big advocate for helping women in business to be bold, strong and confident. I think as the gender that was born with a big “Caretaker” sign on our foreheads, we spend a lot of time putting ourselves last in order to make others feel cared for. This doesn’t always work well in business, and is likely one of the reasons women continue to struggle with workplace equality and power. I think we will only see a sea change for women in business if we can start teaching young girls some fundamental things during their adolescent development.
A new book was released last month that can further help parents and educators of preteen girls embrace such fundamentals. “Brave Girls: Raising Young Women with Passion and Purpose to Become Powerful Leaders,” is written by Stacey Radin, PsyD, and Leslie Goldman. It is being touted as “the ultimate guidebook for parents and educators who want to learn how to help their girls become confident, passionate, and powerful leaders.” Radin also runs a social justice program, Unleashed, a 12 week program where girls learn to diagnose a social challenge, dig deep beneath the surface to address the root causes, and learn to create change. Radin’s background is as a psychologist and consultant for women struggling in the professional world. During this work she “made a ground breaking realization: it all begins in middle school. Women who become successful leaders learn how to do so in the middle grades—the most formative stage in a girl’s development and self-identification.”
Unleashed’s mission is “To empower middle school girls to take a stand against an injustice they care deeply about, and advocating for animal rights and welfare in the process.” Over the course of 12 weeks, girls develop critical tools they will use to solve complex social problems throughout the course of their lives.
The program and the book cover such important topics, and key areas that need to change for our young girls to grow up strong and proud – and happy. Things that we as parents and educators need to support and help them to embrace, including:
- Love yourself first – it will make you a better lover of others. It’s not only okay, it’s fundamental to a happy and fulfilling life.
- Be proud of your talents – celebrate what you’re good at! “People think you’re full of yourself when you talk about what you’re good at.” Yikes. We need to teach them to be PROUD of what they are good at. That being full of self love is a good thing. Not boastful or rude, but proud – and with the knowledge that it’s okay to talk about yourself in a positive light.
- Know that it’s okay not to be perfect – perfect is a fallacy. Don’t try to pretend you don’t fail, rather, learn from it – and share with others so they can learn, too. (I see this “can’t fail or be wrong” mentality in a certain 7 year old I know.) As a New York Daily News writeup by Arielle Landau mentioned, “That sounds drastic, but little girls are often shielded from failure. An old Verizon commercial illustrates the way they’re taught to keep their pretty dresses clean and sit still. By high school, they’re detached and uninterested. So Unleashed gives them an outlet, and Radin shows them how to make mistakes … and learn from them.”
- Support other girls/women – don’t be jealous, be happy when good things happen to others.
I love that the Unleashed program involves puppies and helps them, too. As Landau wrote, “Radin uses Unleashed, a program that helps preteen girls build their confidence through animal rescue. Through the process of saving puppies — puppies! — the girls learn that they are allowed to passionate and organized. Perhaps more importantly, they learn they’re allowed to fail.”
I know I’ll be grabbing this book, how about you? Our girls need all the help they can get.