February 10 , 2017

Gender Bias is Hijacking Our Girls’ Right to Lead. What To Do:

Did you know that…

65% of americans stat.png According to Pew Research Center

Encouraging, right?  As we navigate an environment shaped by an administration that places no value on love, empathy, generosity, or community, we clearly need to be nurturing and activating as many compassion-forward leaders as possible.

Then why, according to the Center for American Women and Politics, are only about 20% of our state and national legislators women when we represent over half of our population?  Because, according to this research, this is also true.

teen gender bias stat.pngAccording to “Leaning Out: Teen Girls and Leadership Biases,”  a study of Making Caring Common Project at Harvard Graduate School of Education

We may not want to admit it, but gender bias is a real thing.  Too many of us believe deep down that men and boys make better leaders than girls and women.  So much so, that stuff like this happens…

more white men named Jim.pngAccording to "California’s New Legislators: Just Like You?" by Matt Levin on KQED news

Gender bias belongs to all of us.  We can't just reject it as "ridiculous" and point fingers at other people.  We have to take responsibility and do something about it.

The folks at Making Care Common recommend these practices as we prepare our children to be leaders...free from bias. 

Become Aware of Your Own Biases

It’s easy to say girls are just as capable as boys.  However, we all hold onto messages that are likely going unchecked.  Do you have a “bossy” girl like me and sometimes just wish she was “well-behaved?” How can we make room for our powerful girls to persist…nevertheless?

Cultivate Family Practices that Prevent and Reduce Bias

Recently, we ordered our daughter her one McDonald’s Happy Meal of the year.  When the voice from the other side of the intercom asked if the meal was "for a boy or girl," we refused to answer. 

There was no way we’d let a faceless voice decide which kind of toy my daughter would receive based on her identified gender.  Instead, we held up the line while asking him to explain the choices. We encouraged our daughter to take her time and pick what she liked best.

Teach Teens to Spot and Effectively Confront Stereotypes and Discrimination

As tween girls, participants in our Go Girls! Productions program learn how the media reinforces gender bias and stereotypes.  They learn that one reason this bias continues is that women make up only 13% of the writers in Hollywood and 7% of its directors.  They learn how important it is to tell the stories of underrepresented people everywhere.

Don’t Just Let “Boys be Boys.”

Distinguished, professional women can publicly be called "nasty" and the glorification of sexual assault can be considered "just locker room talk.” We must teach girls and boys to set and respect healthy boundaries in their relationships.

Challenge Teens’ Biased Assumptions and Beliefs

Ask them questions when their bias comes up.

  • Why do you believe that is true?
  • Where do you think that belief came from?
  • What would it look like if the opposite were true?
Engaging teens in these conversations will expand their critical thinking and encourage them to see new perspectives.

Use Programs and Strategies that Build Girls’ Leadership Skills

According to the Making Care Common study, high quality programs give girls meaningful opportunities to collaborate with their peers and older mentors.  They get exposed to new things, learn essential leadership skills and are offered high, clear, and fair expectations.  

Members of our Go Girls! Leadership Team get all of this and more.  This program for middle school girls includes a 2-night retreat in the redwoods of Sonoma County, CA.  They discover who they are as leaders and prepare to work with the younger kids as CITs during Go Girls! Camp.

We hire high school and college-age girls as Assistant Teachers in our camps.  These young professionals earn money and gain experience as compassionate leaders who know how to take center stage in their own life.


Let's do everything we can to make our girls the compassionate leaders our world needs. We can change the tide of gender bias by seeing our girls for who they are...Powerful. Capable. Go Girls.