There is something quite remarkable happening on LinkedIn and across other social media platforms at the moment.
At the time of writing (end of September 2021), the organization Inspiring Girls International has challenged women around the world to participate in a campaign called This Little Girl Is Me.
And it is remarkable.
To take part in the campaign, leading up to International Day of the Girl on October 11, you post a photo of yourself as a little girl, share your ambitions and a piece of advice you would give to her, and then encourage others to join you in posting by adding “…inspire the next generation of girls by sharing your photo and your story”.
You can go even further and use the hashtag #ThisLittleGirlIsMe to find female role models on your feed that you can follow and be inspired by.
This little girl is me….Katie Anderson
And I have been blown away by the reaction and positive response to my post (over 80,000 views in less than one week on LinkedIn), and I have LOVED seeing the ripple effect of more and more women sharing their stories globally.
Why is the campaign happening?
70% of girls feel more confident about their futures after hearing from women role models.
This isn’t surprising. Here’s why:
In doing research for this blog, I put a phrase into Google – shortage of female role models for girls.
I was met with article after article, page after page, headline after headline about the lack of female role models, in STEM (science, tech, engineering, mathematics) particularly, but also in politics and business.
Here are some of the stats that I found:
- A study by Kaspersky Lab in 2019 found that more than a third of young women are discouraged from choosing careers in STEM fields due to a lack of female role models.
- An online survey conducted by YouGov on behalf of Facebook, shows that “13% of 16-22 year old women with an idea for a start-up said a lack of role models could be a barrier to setting up a business, compared to 7% of young men. One in five young people have an idea for a start-up business, but almost half (46%) of young women do not think they could name a female business leader.”
- An ISACA survey (Global IT association), looking at the barriers facing women in tech, cited a lack of female mentors, a lack of female role models, and gender bias in the workplace as the three biggest issues.
- According to UN Women “as of 1 September 2021, there are 26 women serving as Heads of State and/or Government in 24 countries. At the current rate, gender equality in the highest positions of power will not be reached for another 130 years.”
- And in the pandemic, research has shown that women in the workforce have been the most negatively impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic.
With numbers like these, it’s little wonder that this campaign has been so powerful on LinkedIn and other social media platforms
Why do we need female role models?
Research shows that if girls cannot see females in their areas of interest, they are far less likely to pursue them. When they see other women rising, it motivates them to follow their ambitions.
And when boys can see female role models, they too see a world with greater equality and respect for all.
This article in Forbes cites various studies, and quotes many instances where gender inequality exists, and how a lack of female role models perpetuates this inequality.
Female role models benefit us all
The benefits of female role models for everyone — regardless of gender, age, or background — are both aspirational and tangible.
They spur and fuel the ambitions of women to see a path that might have before seemed impossible, and gives people of all backgrounds concrete advice and strategies to help them forge their own way towards impact.
Sharing our stories of success AND challenges benefits us all
It’s important to share our stories — all of our stories — to help make visible that the path to where we are today was not always linear or easy.
We discover the hidden experiences that have shaped us and those around us. Our reflections on the past highlight that “success” also consists of overcoming challenges, insecurities, and setbacks.
Sharing our stories inspires not only girls & women, but boys and men too
As a mom of two young boys (currently ages 7 and 10) it is also critically important for me to show them that we ALL have the potential to achieve and that we all must navigate different challenges in life to discover our purpose, realize our dreams, and create a meaningful impact on those around us.
It’s so important that we celebrate women, lift them up, encourage them, support them, and show them — and all of us — how to be strong leaders, business owners, parents, and humans.
And in doing so, we can inspire not only the women around us, but the men too, for the human experiences that shape us all.
What I’ve learned and why I did this
In my life and my work, I’m dedicated to the idea of leading with intention: understanding your purpose and aligning your actions to fulfill that purpose; and reflecting on the purpose of a leader and asking yourself what actions you can take to provide both direction and support.
Leading with intention: understanding your purpose and aligning your actions to fulfill that purpose; and reflecting on the purpose of a leader and asking yourself what actions you can take to provide both direction and support.
Looking at gender dynamics has long been an interest of mine.
I focused my undergraduate degree in Human Biology with a concentration in Women’s Health and Public Policy so that I could marry my passion for gender equality with my passion for global health and policy. When I moved to Japan in 2015, I wrote often about my observations of the dearth of women in Japanese leadership or in the workforce generally.
We need more female leaders (at all levels) in politics, business, sport, the arts, and STEM-related industries.
I wanted to share my journey and my successes as part of the #thislittlegirlsisme campaign to help inspire other women to find and live their purpose and to take leadership positions, pursue their dreams, and leverage their curiosity.
Helping our children see the possibilities of the future
We have to “pay it forward” to the current children in our lives and help them see that who they are WILL have an impact (and the tough times will be okay).
As a mother of two young boys, it was wonderful to look deep within my childhood self and reflect that they are in that same stage of life in elementary school, managing their way through discovering themselves.
I also valued the challenge and the opportunity to speak to my child self with the benefit of perspective, and let her know that those things that once felt like weaknesses have become strengths.
All of our stories can inspire and transcend background.
We can all connect on a human level and I appreciate the #thislittlegirlisme challenge to encourage so many women to share their journeys in honor of International Day of the Girl.
We all have the story of the little girl (or boy) in our life that has shaped who we are today.
I was inspired by posts by other colleagues, and I’d love to hear your journey too! Share your #thislittlegirlisme story today!
Move Towards Realizing YOUR Purpose Through Reflection and Action
For leaders and coaches who want to lead from the heart and inspire the mind, become more innovative & effective, and achieve greater collective success with their team and organization…
Join the 10-week Leading to Learn Accelerator today so you can inspire, grow, and achieve more as an intentional leader and connect with your story as you pursue your purpose.
Starting in October 2021, you’ll work with me, Katie Anderson, to:
- ACCELERATE your organization to success and deliver tangible outcomes
- BECOME the leader your team wants to follow and the coach your team needs
- INVEST in ongoing learning for yourself while developing your people
Part book study, part facilitated course, part group coaching, you’ll learn to be a more intentional, people-centered leader in just 10 weeks by learning to lead from the heart, gaining clarity of purpose, and learning tangible practices to help others learn, achieve goals, and discover their purpose too.
What if the secret to success didn’t come from doing more, but rather from learning more and creating more value by engaging everyone in problem-solving at all levels?
What if the secret to achieving more came from adjusting how you lead your team to learn and how you lead yourself?
Additional Resources To Support You:
Read the bestselling book that I wrote in collaboration with Isao Yoshino: Learning to Lead, Leading to Learn
Explore and reflect on the exercises in the Learning to Lead, Leading to Learn Workbook to deepen your understanding and practice of the Leading to Learn framework.
Read this article and watch the video: The Real Meaning of Kaizen
Download the free guide “Breaking the Telling Habit”
About Katie Anderson
Leadership & Learning Coach | Author | Japan Study Trip Leader | Lean Consultant | Speaker
Katie Anderson is an internationally recognized leadership coach, consultant, speaker, and author of bestselling book Learning to Lead, Leading to Learn, with over 20 years of expertise in developing people-centered learning cultures across a range of industries.
Katie helps caring leaders and high achievers discover how to achieve more instead of just doing more — by leading and living with intention — and in doing so make a more meaningful impact in the world and those around them. She has worked with leaders of organizations such as Roche, Facebook, Toyota and regularly keynotes international events.
Katie received her BA with honors from Stanford University and a Masters of Philosophy in public health from Sydney University, where she was a Fulbright Scholar. She has lived in seven countries and currently resides in the San Francisco Bay Area with her husband and two sons.