I certainly don’t need a reason to explain how important it is to build up our daughters, but I’m especially inspired right now. To start…
- March is Women’s History Month and March 8 was International Women’s day with a #BeBoldForChange message.
- I started that day with a women’s leadership breakfast at Columbus School for Girls.
- Then I had the honor of introducing Girl Scouts of America CEO Sylvia Acevedo and Former Supreme Court Justice Yvette McGee Brown at that week’s Columbus Metropolitan Club forum.
Further, the Women’s Fund of Central Ohio is bringing THE Billie Jean King to speak to our community about how she has changed the game for women and girls on Thursday, May 4.
Full disclosure – I’m on CMC’s board of trustees, and my employer supports the Women’s Fund (as do I) in many ways. The Women’s Fund is even giving away tickets to that May 4 Keyholder event as part of this blog post. But that’s mostly a fortunate coincidence as I had already resolved to write about our girls after last Wednesday. Ms. Acevedo’s words that day led me to that point. [You can hear those words for yourself by watching that forum here.]
The 2017 State of Girls report shows that education has improved for our girls in the last 10 years, but that doesn’t always translate to positive marks on economic, physical, or emotional statistics. Women today still are not equally represented in CEO positions or on boards around the country, even though studies have proven the value of the female perspective in those roles. Why? I blame a lack of confidence. That’s among other things, certainly, but the women who do make a difference stand up and stand out for what they believe in.
The Women’s Fund’s 2014 One Girl report found that a girl’s self-esteem peaks at age 8. EIGHT. That means I may only have one more year of my girls feeling beautiful even when their hair is everywhere, thinking their bodies are perfect because God made them that way, or proclaiming how proud Shaun T would be of their incredible form when doing T25 alongside me. And that’s simply unacceptable.
So how can we make sure our girls keep that confidence? Sylvia Acevedo would naturally suggest that they join Girl Scouts. Only 8% of girls are in it, but 80% of female senators, the majority of female governors, over half of female CEOs, and all three women secretaries of state were Girl Scouts. That’s quite a track record. She says the Girl Scouts taught her that it was ok to fail and that it’s important to create your own opportunity. Did I mention she’s also a rocket scientist?!
In a similar vein, Billie Jean King has said, “Be bold. If you’re going to make an error, make it a doozy, and don’t be afraid to hit the ball.” She’s also big on self-awareness and taking responsibility for your actions. I couldn’t agree more. Those principles helped her change how the world views women in sports through her unbelievable determination and athletic ability on the tennis court.
I want my girls to know they can make the world a better place, as much as or more than any boy. I hope they show boys that running and throwing like a girl means they do so with power and excellence. I strive to both tell and show my girls what’s possible for them. I am proud to be the sole breadwinner of my household. My amazing husband has equal pride in caring for our home and in daring all of our children to live to their potential. I love that they see both of us leading in different ways. Our girls are both Daisies in the Girl Scouts and star soccer players. They rock school and are always up for a competition. I’d say they’re poised for success.
No matter what your circumstances, you can support your daughters and any other young ladies in your life. Here are five ways I’d recommend:
- Push them to always do their best.
- Tell them it’s ok to mess up.
- Help them believe in themselves by showing how much you believe in them.
- Prepare them to expect challenges as a part of life; remind them of their ability to conquer any that come along.
- Prompt them to be grateful for everything.
It took me 30 years to gain high self-esteem. I don’t want my girls to have to wait that long. We can break the cycle by teaching them how to overcome insecurity. And I have every confidence that our little girls will absolutely change the game.