Girls: Facing Leadership Challenges?


BOSTON, Mass. (Ivanhoe Newswire) — 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.

Weissbourd said 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.

Weissbourd told Ivanhoe, “One of the things we very concretely advocate for is the chore wheel where the chores rotate in the house independent of gender. You’re just doing the wheel.”

Researchers say they also found implicit bias against girls. In a hypothetical scenario, students were least likely to give more power to student council when it was led by girls. Focus groups showed that girls were less likely to vote for other girls.

Contributors to this news report include: Cyndy McGrath, Supervising and Field Producer; Milvionne Chery, News Producer; Roque Correa, Editor and Videographer.

Produced by Child Trends News Service in partnership with Ivanhoe Broadcast News and funded by a grant from the National Science Foundation.