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Report: Educators Play Key Role in Shaping, Guiding Girls into Leadership Roles

“Helping girls make the leap from great students to great leaders is part of a teachers’ job,” says NEA’s Eskelsen García


WASHINGTON - September 30, 2014 -

Educators play a key role in supporting girls’ leadership development and shaping perceptions among all students about girls’ and women’s suitability for leadership, according to a new report from the National Education Association (NEA), the American Association of University Women (AAUW), and the Center for Information and Research on Civic Learning and Engagement (CIRCLE) of the Tisch College of Citizenship & Public Service at Tufts University.

The report, Closing the Leadership Gap-How Educators Can Help Girls Lead, was released at a webinar/panel discussion today that featured teachers and key international education and equity advocates. The webinar, How Educators Can Help Girls Lead, was attended by educators in more than nine countries, members of the media, and thought leaders. The virtual panel discussion featured NEA President Lily Eskelsen García and Kei Kawashima-Ginsberg, Ph.D., Deputy Director of the Center for Information and Research on Civic Learning and Engagement at the Tisch College of Citizenship & Public Service at Tufts University.

“The role educators can play in shaping perceptions of women as leaders and creating a pipeline for girls to lead inside and outside school is clear,” said Eskelsen García. “We need to think about what we can do, as educators, to help girls make the leap from being great students to being leaders in society and business. As educators, we are in a position to encourage girls’ confidence in their leadership skills and to nurture their dreams.”

According to the new report, educators should share their more gender-neutral views and examples of leadership with their students, as educators observed boys and girls leading in different settings. But the key to having teachers that foster and promote acceptance is experience and professional development in gender and diversity issues.

"When boys and girls don't have the same opportunities to develop as leaders, the future of our democracy suffers for it. Educators can have a profound influence on that development, and this study provides us with a roadmap for where we should go next – in policy, training, and classroom teaching," said Dr. Kawashima-Ginsberg.

The report provides specific recommendations for educators to encourage all students, but especially girls, to take on leadership roles in middle school and high school, including:

  • Provide teachers with professional development and pre-service cultural competence, diversity, and leadership trainings that examine stereotypes and biases about girls, women, and leadership.
  • Highlight the importance of women’s contributions across the academic spectrum and expose all students to women who are role models and leaders in the world.
  • Encourage girls to take on leadership roles and encourage all students to take on non-traditional leadership roles.

 “Closing the leadership gap by encouraging girls and women to take leadership positions is paramount if we are going to have equal representation in public, political, philanthropic, business, educational and non-profit settings,” said Eskelsen García. “Girls' education and leadership is a global issue. As we work with educators through Education International, there is a global concern about how we can encourage greater gender parity in all professions.”

To read the report, Closing the Leadership Gap-How Educators Can Help Girls Lead, please click here.

To see a recording of today’s webinar, How Educators Can Help Girls Lead, please click here. (after 8:00 p.m. EDT)

To download NEA’s Girls Leadership and Equity Toolkit, please click here or go to http://www.nea.org/women. Follow NEA at twitter.com/neamedia. Join the conversation and track events by following #GirlsLead.

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The National Education Association is the nation's largest professional employee organization, representing nearly 3 million elementary and secondary teachers, higher education faculty, education support professionals, school administrators, retired educators and students preparing to become teachers.

CONTACT: Sara Robertson  (202) 822-7823, srobertson@nea.org