Research suggests the next generation of young female leaders may still have to battle to get to the top, just because they are women.
Women have made great strides over the past decade in politics, entertainment, business and law. Despite the gains, a generation of young women may still face gender bias if they aspire to lead.
In a recent survey of 20,000 middle and high school students, 56 percent of the boys and 69 percent of the girls said gender doesn’t matter for political leadership. Social scientists say that part’s encouraging.
“But we still have light years to go in terms of some of this gender-pigeon holing that we’re doing,” said Rick Weissbourd, EdD, of the Harvard Graduate School of Education.
For example, girls were more likely to view females as better leaders in traditionally female professions, like child care directors. Forty-nine percent of the girls saw women as more capable in a childcare leadership role.
Parents can help by encouraging girls to take on leadership roles at school. Also at home, by being mindful of gender stereotypes and not limiting girls to caregiving chores.
But one local educator believes those attitudes are already changing,
“I think there is an evolving attitude because we’re seeing more young women become involved in STEM-related careers and having a higher interest in those as well so i do think it is evolving,” said Altoona Area School District Assistant Superintendent Dr. Patty Burlingame.
She added that she sees the focus on STEM also better preparing young women for leadership roles.
“This engineering by design process this stem really focuses on collaboration and thinking outside the box and problem-solving so all of those skills are leadership skills.
Parents can help by encouraging girls to take on leadership roles at school. And at home, by being mindful of gender stereotypes and by not limiting girls to caregiving chores.
Also, if you’re in the Altoona Area School District, urge your daughters to take part in Girls Stem Day on Friday, November 30. It’s for girls in grades 3 to 6.
Boys won’t be ignored–they’ll practice coding, with code.org, during the event.