10 May Confidence Key in Girls Success
I dreamed of becoming a preacher when I was six years old.
I thought the ministry would suit me well. In my six-year-old logic, becoming a member of the clergy meant that I would get to talk to people all of the time and help them with their problems, people would be excited to see me and hear me speak, and I would get to eat chicken (my favorite) each and every Sunday.
Luckily for me, I had a grandmother who taught me to believe in the power of my dreams and instilled in me the courage to doggedly pursue them. She taught me that I was strong, smart, and resourceful enough to make whatever I had the audacity to dream come true. So, at 6, I believed I was destined to become a minister. At 17, I believed I’d become a forensic psychologist (thanks CSI and Law and Order). At 22, I was set to become an amazing journalist. At 30, I was to be a dedicated entrepreneur.
It turns out, my grandmother, who struggled to raise my mother as a teenage bride and who struggled later to raise me when my own mother became a teen mom, was right. I can make my wildest dreams come true. My grandmother AND Eleanor Roosevelt said it best: the future does indeed belong to those who believe in the beauty of their dreams.
Looking back at my six-year-old self, I have to admit my future was solid. While I never became a minister or a forensic psychologist, I did become a journalist, a speaker, a published author, a noted trainer, and an entrepreneur. I’ve been able to live in beautiful places, learn new things, meet interesting people, and do amazing things. I am still dreaming, and, most importantly, I’m still finding ways to turn my dreams into a reality.
But there are so many girls who don’t get a chance to dream — let alone have the confidence to bring their desires to fruition.
There are thousands of girls around the world who aren’t fortunate enough to have a Granny like mine who will encourage them to create the life and career they want, no matter the circumstances. Research has confirmed that career confidence — believing that you have what it takes to pursue your dream job — starts early.
Only one in four, or 25 percent, of US professionals are in careers that are or related to their childhood dreams. For women and girls, the numbers are even more daunting. Study after study after study suggests that girls tend to pursue careers that are aligned with their level of self-esteem or confidence and not necessarily those that match their skill, ability, or dream career.
When it comes to highly coveted career options, such as those that fall in the STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) category, girls express more interest in these careers than their male peers; yet, less than 5 percent of girls around the world actually believe it’s possible for them to pursue those jobs.
That’s exactly why I’m proud to support Girls to the Moon and have participated as a speaker twice during its Campference. During my 2017 #GTTM session, I helped girls develop their own set of personal values to distinguish themselves from their peers. We explored how those values could help them envision their future and chart their own course in the world.
This is why I was more than willing to allow DENOR to gift services to help tell the story of why Black in Tech Nashville partnered with Meharry Medical College to send approximately 200 girls of color to the movies to see “A Wrinkle in Time.” The collaborators wanted to inspire girls to lean in to their interests in science, technology, engineering, and math, and treated the girls to an empowerment pep rally.
This is why the team at DENOR is so excited to continue our partnership with the two black female founders of the tech company Mixtroz. We couldn’t be prouder that the dynamic mother-daughter duo of Ashlee Ammons and Kerry Schrader are successfully beating the odds as black females in the startup tech spear, with non tech backgrounds (instead event production and human resources, respectively), and who hail from Nashville by way of Ohio instead of Silicon Valley. We’re celebrating their recent win of the grand prize of $100,000 in the Rise of the Rest competition in Birmingham. You go girls!
It’s also why we’re excited about our current work with Girl Scouts of Middle Tennessee as we work towards helping the community see the organization beyond cookies, camps, and crafts, and instead as the premiere leadership organization for all girls to have the opportunity to pursue greatness, mold sustainable change in their communities, and actively transform the world around them now and for future generations.
Through my professional and volunteer work, I have actively been doing exactly what my late grandmother did for me: championing little girls (and big ones) to believe in the beauty of their dreams. I have even created a special version of my signature dream-realization and goal-setting guide, The Dream Planner, so that tween girls (and boys) can successfully plan their futures.
By teaching our girls that it is OK to dream, plan, and create the life and career they want, we also give them the courage to pursue their wildest dreams. We teach them, by our example, to overcome ‘The Confidence Gap,’ and that confidence is just as important as competence. We give them permission to become the leaders our world so desperately needs.
Oh, and for those wondering, I am absolutely living my six-year-old dream. I do get to talk to people all of them time and help them with their (marketing communication) issues. People are excited to see me and hear me speak. And, I get to eat chicken whenever I want.
Note: An earlier version of this blog was published on September 7, 2017 as an opinion piece in The Nashville Pride.