Take Five: How to Celebrate International Day Of The Girl
There are 1.1 billion girls in the world. Imagine if we harnessed all of that power? More than half of girls see equality as big issue and only less than 25% think there is equality now. Compare these figures to their male counterparts: less than 10% of boys think equality is big issue and half of think equality already exists, according to The State of Gender Equality for U.S. Adolescents survey by Plan International USA.
Representation matters, because if you can see her, you can be her. We have a representation problem that is impacting the next generation of leaders: Women account for only 4.8% of Fortune 500 CEOs, just 22% of the world’s parliamentarians are women and 40% of women don’t identify at all with the women they see in advertising. In the Girls’ Lounge at Advertising Week, thought leaders shared how each of us can do our part to make a more equal world — one in which girls won’t have to wait 217 years to reach full gender equality. Here are some things you can try today in honor of International Day of the Girl.
Mentor a girl. Mentorship matters: Studies show that women who have mentors are more likely to get promoted. “Mentoring is a really important thing,” says Laura Molen, Executive Vice President, Lifestyle and Hispanic Advertising Sales, at NBCUniversal. “I mentor inner city youth through this program called the Development School for Youth that provides [professional] role models.” Laura says she didn’t realize the impact she had made until one of the girls she mentored said that her story — Laura was raised by a single working mother — inspired her to apply for (and get into!) college. “She also grew up with a single mom and she thought, ‘If she can do it, then I can do it.’ I didn’t know I was this invisible role model.”
In celebration of International Day of the Girl, The Female Quotient is partnering with Plan International USA to bring young mentees into some of the world’s leading companies, such as NBCUniversal, Deloitte, and L’Oreal. By shadowing strong female mentors there, girls see the possibility that they too can become leaders, and learn the skills they need to rise up.
Do a language check. The words we use help shape how we see the world and our perceptions of gender. “Language is so important,” says Richard Lui, Anchor at MSNBC and PLAN Partner. “For example, ‘Hey you guys!’ No, it’s not guys. [We also have to be careful of] victim blaming in language, such as saying, ‘Jane was raped.’ No, John raped Jane. I think about words all the time. Try writing down those 10 words you keep using in a conversation… As a city, as a country, as a world, we’re learning how to talk about a subject that we have not talked about to this level or this directly ever before.”
Own your stories. Standing up for yourself and standing up for what matters and then sharing your stories can inspire others to do the same. “The gap that exists between what women want to do and what they can achieve exists largely because they feel they don’t have any ownership over their capabilities or stories,” say Malika Dia, Youth Advisory Board Member at Plan International USA. “No one should take away the legitimacy of your story and a goal or a dream that is yours… I’m not defined by any man or stereotype, and it is my job and role to make other girls believe that too.”
Remember that partnership starts at home. Studies show that women continue to shoulder the majority of the caregiving and household duties. Our daughters and sons will likely model our behavior, so it’s important for dual income earners to equally shoulder the household responsibilities so that both partners can thrive in the workplace and at home. “The one thing everyone can do is be there for each other, whether you’re a man or a woman,” says Laura. “I say to the guys on my team, you have a role in your home life as well. You need to make sure that you’re present. So trying for gender equality on both sides.”
Become conscious of your unconscious. The truth is that we all have unconscious bias that impacts our perceptions of others. The key to reversing these thought patterns is to become aware of them. “Figure out the gaps in your knowledge and use that information to be an ally,” says Malika. “If you’re a man, for example, it is so important for you as a role model for other men to be speaking about gender equality. It is important for women to see all those different intersections represented. [It’s about] being conscious of what you don’t know and actively learning about ways in which you can help.”
Read more on sharing your stories and mentorship here:
Fearless and Personal: How Brave Storytelling Paves The Way To Equality
7 Things No One Tells You About Mentorship
Olympic Champions On Why The World Needs You To Be Yourself