5 Ways to Support Young Women Leaders

Young women aren’t future women leaders. They are women leaders. Period.

When I first published this blog in 2018, my views were informed by my participation in many events focused on young women and leadership across diverse issues: women’s economic participation, anti-bullying, and public leadership.

Three years later, it is still critical to support and lift up young women. The young women involved in these events — business students at The Wharton School, students at American University School of Public Affairs, and Girls Scouts from across the Washington, DC area — are challenging us all to do better.

We often think of leaders as politicians, corporate executives or business owners. But women and girls are leaders everywhere. They are in our community organizations and neighborhoods, schools and universities, our sports teams, our stores and restaurants. So much can be done to widen the path for them and highlight their skills.

We need these voices in every place where decisions are made. While 56 percent of college students are women, only 40 percent of colleges have women student body presidents. Running for student government is important because those who do are 11 percent more likely to run for political office. (And, forty percent of women currently in Congress were involved in student government.)

We need to value and validate the leadership of these young women and support their work. Here are five ways we can play a role in their success:

  1. “If you can’t see it, you can’t be it.” We all know this mantra. Talent and skill matter but so does seeing someone like you as a diplomat, a scientist, a lawyer, a doctor, fill-in-the-blank. Young women need diverse role models, and we need to be accessible to them and tell our stories. Women can learn from men, but men can’t give advice on navigating the workplace (or the world) as a woman. The panel on young women’s leadership featured such a group of speakers. One panelist discussed her challenges being an African-American woman and a corrections officer, another around being a working mom.

Young women are coming into their own as leaders — not only of specific projects and companies — but of a culture that brings out the best in everyone. Together we can expand their reach and propel them further and faster. Let’s do it.

If you’d like a guide with more information, Take Action: Fighting for Women and Girls will shortly be available for pre-order at StephenieFoster.com as well as on Amazon.

Partner, Smash Strategies. Recovering diplomat. Work in the US and globally so that women & girls have every opportunity.

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