Kids are kids. We bring them up to be independent, accomplished and assertive adults. For our daughters, the leadership--the assertive part--sometimes gets lost in the mix. The new president of Simmons College--my alumnus--posted a piece on Huffington Post: Five tips for dads to pass on to their daughters to help them become leaders.
Here's a link to the full post. For those who'd like the short, edited version, here 'tis:
Tip 1: Mistakes are good. Girls should not be afraid to make mistakes -- or fail; everyone does this and they will learn with each mistake how to grow and become better. When the opportunity arises, dads, you can talk to your daughter about what she learned from her mistakes and how she has grown from them. And you can share some of your own failings with her, too.
Tip 2: Build a sisterhood. Women need mentors just as much as men and these relationships are best created when girls are young. Dads can encourage their daughters to build strong relationships with other girls and to do so in a way that is supportive, not competitive.
Tip 3: Take up space. For a variety of reasons, girls are afraid to physically take up space. (Ask your daughter to sit or stand like a girl, and then ask her to reenact how a boys sits or stands. You will find the differences -- and the space required -- remarkable!) If girls are not comfortable taking up physical space, this can eventually translate into discomfort with their own thoughts, ideas, and opinions -- some the important building blocks of leadership.
Tip 4: Science is for girls. Right now, women make up only 25% of the STEM workforce, [STEM is an acronym for the fields of science, technology, engineering and math], which is expected to grow by nearly 20% during the rest of the decade. While girls have strong career aspirations, they continue to make choices based on gendered messages and often ignore emerging (and highly paid) fields such as STEM. Dads, you can encourage your daughters to try out these STEM subjects at an early age. Why not take them to a science museum, or encourage them to read about architecture or math?Tip 5: Boys can help too: We live in a culture where boys and men are encouraged to assert their authority. This oftentimes leads to aggressive behavior against girls or women. Dads can influence behavior by encouraging their sons (and sons' friends) to challenge these traits and treat girls and women with the respect they deserve.