Raising female CEOs: Coding camp is not the panacea. Instead, help her find her moxie.


But lately, I have had to wonder: Will she?

Something is shifting in me as I observe all of this. I am not thinking about how we push progress for working women. I am focusing on how we raise our girls. I think it’s time to play the long game.

I was a girl who aspired to be a cake baker or a hairdresser. Those are the workshops I picked at the career fair. I attended Stanford business school in my 20s, but that was too late to internalize messages about who deserves to have power. I had already counted myself out.

Raising a generation of girls who expect to be CEOs would be revolutionary. No amended-leave policy or plugging of a “leaky pipeline” (the phenomenon of women falling out at each step toward the top) is going to fix the fact that girls rarely consider themselves leaders. Girls curb themselves from being directive — they don’t want to be deemed bossy. About one-quarter of middle school girls say they will never achieve their dream career. In 30 out of 30 countries studied, females underestimated their IQ while males overestimated theirs.

Over the past 18 months, I have had the opportunity to interview more than 40 female CEOs as research for a collection of 31 profiles aimed at teen girls. (In rare cases where I couldn’t talk to them, I wrote about them after deep research.) At times I have felt like a scientist studying centenarians or the dwarfs of Ecuador who have extraordinarily low rates of cancer, examining a super species to understand the drivers…

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