In our new book “Living the Confidence Code” we looked for role models whose stories would really resonate with other girls. We did not highlight traditionally “accomplished” or celebrated girls, but rather those who had also stumbled, showed perseverance, and were open to it.
Yekaba Abimbola in Ethiopia, who was promised marriage at age 12, spoke openly about the conflict between her deep desire to please her family, indeed her entire community, and her passion for independence. She fought against the conventions of her culture, stopped her arranged marriage, and gained the right to continue her education.
Ciara-Beth Griffin, an Irish teenager on the autism spectrum, struggled to develop an app for other neurodiverse children. Bringing up a topic we heard over and over again, she said to us, “You are drawn to ‘What if I fail? What will other people think? ‘And the evil perfectionist voice in your head… ”But she and all these girls have managed to find endless ways to silence that voice and say, as Ciara-Beth puts it:“ Stop it! “And do what they set out to do.
What really makes someone a role model? Think of history and struggle – multidimensional women with revealing mistakes and failures and compelling, bumpy narratives.
We’ve rounded up some key tips to increase role model performance for parents, educators, and all girls’ allies.
To tell a story
Storytelling as an exceptional teaching tool is well documented. When we engage in a narrative, our brain connects the information deeper, makes predictions, and gains perspectives that last. And girls hunger for the connections they find in a narrative. “Girls have to look under the hood to see the process they went through,” said Ms. Simmons. “That’s what really excites someone – it’s not who you are now, but how you got there and what you’ve weathered.”
Have a solid family discussion about a particular role model, suggested child psychologist Bonnie Zucker, author of Anxiety-Free Kids.