Let Young Girls Explore Their Limitless Potential

“Empowering women and girls with more choices and more freedoms is crucial to achieving a better future for all” -Amartya Sen, Nobel laureate and a founder of UNDP’s Human Development Index (Source: United Nations Development Programs)

Gender equality and achieving women’s rights is a social issue in the spotlight. So, where to begin? Some advertisements suggest empowering young girls is a path to filling C-suites with powerful women in the future. These advertisements focus on encouraging and inspiring girls when they going through puberty, a period of time when a girl’s confidence can plummet. Presently, only 26 Women (5.2%) serve as CEOs at Fortune 500 companies. The share serving as CEOs of Fortune 1000 companies is just about the same at 5.4% (Pew Research Center). As a young female college graduate trying to establish myself in the business world, these numbers can take a stab at my motivations and self-confidence, something extremely important that I need when applying and interviewing for jobs. So while these advertisement messages seems to be aimed at young girls, I believe it’s meant to be heard by women and men of all ages. Here are a few campaigns focusing on embracing being a girl and to go in any direction with confidence.

What happens when girls are free to imagine they can be anything? Barbie’s aims to make a girl’s imaginations real and explore their limitless potential. This 2-minute spot shows young girls fulfilling positions like teachers, doctors, coaches, and more. At first, you can’t help but “aww” over how young they are but you truly see how confident and excited they are to be there.

Microsoft decided to tackle the issue of gender inequality in the science field. During the commercial, young girls are interviewed about their interest in science and their own projects. However, discussion moves to how science is “a boy thing.” 7 out of 10 girls are interested in science, but only 2 out of 10 go on to pursue it. Microsoft sends letters to each of the girls to encourage them to keep inventing.

Ban Bossy, a campaign from Lean In and the Girl Scouts, features famous strong women (and men!) in a video aimed at ending the label “bossy” because of its negative effect on young girls being interested in leadership positions. It’s emphasising that sometimes the word “bossy” or “stubborn” can be confused with confident and competitive, especially pertaining to women. The list of stars include  Jennifer Garner, Jane Lynch, Diane von Fürstenberg, Condoleezza Rice, Jimmie Johnson, Sinéad O’Connor, Arne Duncan, Anna Maria Chávez, Victoria Beckham, and Beyoncé. It ends with a killer quote from Queen B, “I’m not bossy. I’m the boss.”

The “Like a Girl” campaign for Proctor & Gamble’s Always, received not only multiple industry awards but just recently won the 2015 Emmy Award for Outstanding Commercial at the Creative Arts Emmys presentation. The ad, which aired during the 2015 Super Bowl, asks a panel of male and female participants of all ages to do things “like a girl.” When asking the same questions to actual young girls, the results were much different. The campaign tells all girls not to listen to listen to stereotypes and have confidence in being a woman.

These campaigns likely catalyze  the discussion of gender equality but it’s important to continue the conversation into classrooms and the office for them to make a real difference. Using social media to start discussions, reading blogs, or talking with your friends could lead the way to achieving true gender equality in the workplace. Personally, being surrounded and exposed to women teachers and professors growing up was a great inspiration. Another great motivator as I step into the business world? Every day at Bravo Group, I am influenced by three strong women in the Pittsburgh office.

Grace Rzodkiewicz || Pittsburgh Office

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