To walk towards a future with more equality, it’s necessary to understand the importance of female leadership and learn how to encourage girl empowerment in childhood.
A research carried out in 2017 by Bian Lin and Sarah-Jane Leslie together with professor Andrei Cimpian, and published by the journal Science, found that 30% of girls between 6 and 7 years old feel less intelligent than boys. This finding demonstrates the importance and necessity of empowering girls in childhood.
The study, which was carried out with 400 children, asked the little ones to point out whether the protagonist of the story told by the researchers about a “very, very intelligent” person was a man or a woman. In a second moment, after observing pairs of adults with men and women in each pair, the children had to guess which of the two was “really smart”. The children’s last tasks were to attribute objects and qualities to the figures of men and women, in addition to choosing which games they identified with the most: whether with “very, very smart” children’s games or “very, very hardworking” children’s games”.
The result surprised scholars, as it showed that until the age of 5, both boys and girls saw intelligence and brilliance in their gender.
From the age of 6 and 7, the girls participating in the research began to associate behaviors, objects, and qualities that they considered intelligent to men, in addition to giving greater preference to games for “very, very hardworking” children. In response to the same stimuli, boys between 6 and 7 years old stopped attributing intelligence to women, giving preference to men and identified more with games for “very, very intelligent” children.
Empowering girls in childhood: a collective mission
The conclusions presented by the study were that children begin to internalize gender stereotypes much earlier than most adults expect and that this attitude on the part of the little ones ends up directly interfering with their interests.
Because they don’t feel good enough or smart enough, many girls end up avoiding being interested in areas like science, math, or physics. This behavior, which started as early as the research shows, is reflected in what we see today: with the absence of women in the scientific area, in leadership positions or prestigious positions, in addition to the salary inequality between men and women.
To change this scenario, both families and educators need to come together to put into practice actions that promote girls empowerment in childhood, encouraging female protagonism from an early age. By investing in this collectively, everyone will be contributing to a future with more equality and female presence in different spaces.
7 Tips to encourage girl empowerment from an early age
1) Watch your vocabulary
In childhood, children learn and internalize behaviors from the attitudes of adults with whom they live. For this reason, families must be aware of their behavior and the vocabulary they use with and in front of girls.
A great exercise for adults is to reflect before saying something in front of girls. Questions like “will this encourage and strengthen her self-esteem?” or “would I use those words if I were talking to a boy?” are excellent ways to start consciously contributing to girl empowerment.
2) Invest in effective education
The concept of effective education, developed by specialist Henri Wallon, seeks to unite thoughts and feelings in the learning process. For girls, this is extremely important, as it strengthens the process of developing their self-esteem healthily.
To invest in effective education, it is enough for the family to bring it into everyday life with affirmations such as: “you are brave!”, “you can be anything you want”, “you are smart”, “we are proud of you”, “we respect you”, “we are here to support you”, among other phrases that escape the compliments related to physical appearance. This way, girls will have a broader view of their abilities, in addition to being stimulated in their development process.
3) Diversify the content of the stories
Child protagonism is important for children’s development, especially for girls. When seeing female protagonists in the stories, girls feel represented.
Investing in the diversification of the content of children’s stories, showing books in which girls are heroines capable of saving the day or making incredible discoveries, will bring several benefits to the imagination and the sense of belonging of the little ones.
In the new personalized book “Rebel Girls of Science” the girls will meet, along with the renowned physicist Marie Curie, several rebel girls who transformed the world of science with their discoveries. While learning the story of these inspiring women, the girls are empowered to overcome their challenges in and out of stories with great courage and daring! Click here to customize your little one and show her she can be anything she wants to be!
Playstories not only have books for scientists to be, but for athletes as well! “Rebel Girls in Sports” is a perfect book to encourage girls to follow their dreams. In this story, playing in the Little League is just the beginning: by meeting the rebel girls in sports, kids will discover how to conquer their fears to make their dreams come true with determination and confidence! Click here to customize the kid’s favorite personalized sports book!
4) Encourage new games
To empower girls in childhood it is important to show them different ways to play and have fun. In addition to contributing to the expansion of the children’s repertoire, this practice also contributes to the deconstruction of the stereotypes of “girl” and “boy” games.
How about introducing the girls to toy cars, creative activities, games involving numbers, scientific experiments, new designs, or even sports? Having contact with these games are essential for girls to feel free to choose the activities they most identify with.
5) Introduce female references
Representativeness matters a lot to encourage girl empowerment. After all, it is through the achievements of other women that the little ones are inspired and feel motivated to fight for their dreams.
Whether it’s a cartoon or toy character with similar physical characteristics, women working in different professions, playing sports, or performing activities that are not related to a specific gender: every example is important so that the little ones can build a repertoire full of references with other women, who, like them, can conquer whatever they want.
6) Respect preferences
In childhood, it is natural for girls to show preferences for certain themes, games, or activities. During this process of building interests, the family must respect their choices, especially in the case of preferences for subjects and objects that do not usually receive so much encouragement from society for girls.
By feeling respect and empathy from their family members, little ones will feel safe not only to make their own choices but also to share their ideas, thoughts, and opinions.
7) Practice active listening
The girls of the Alpha Generation live with various stimuli in their routine, in addition to regular activities such as going to school and playing with their friends. Each of these interactions with the world and people provide different and remarkable experiences to a greater or lesser extent.
For this reason, the practice of active listening by the family is an excellent ally in empowering girls in childhood. By taking time to listen and help the little ones with their experiences, the family shows interest, care, and attention. Such characteristics are essential for girls’ self-esteem, as they make them feel seen, perceived, and valued.