For parents, there’s no greater joy than seeing our children walk out the door like they can take on the world. But for girls, this can be a real challenge, especially once puberty hits: Studies show that girls’ and boys’ self-confidence remains largely equal until age 12, but by the time she starts high school at age 14, the average American girl is far less confident than the average American boy. Those losses can have long-standing effects on mental health and self-esteem.
Fortunately, it’s never too late to do something.
Aristotle famously said, “For the things we have to learn before we can do them, we learn by doing them.” It sounds a lot like one of our modern favorite sayings – fake it ‘til you make it. It also refers to the power of learning by doing. No matter how many positive things you tell your girls, the real change starts once they believe it. Or, as another great thinker once said, “Change comes from within.”
Today, we’re going behind the scenes with a few female entrepreneurs who have dedicated their lives to building self-esteem in girls by putting the power in girls’ hands and telling them, You can.
Black Girl MATHgic
Black Girl MATHgic founder Brittany has a degree in mathematics and more than a decade’s experience tutoring children in math. She also has big ideas, and big dreams about how black girls can succeed in STEM.
According to Brittany, it all starts with the self-confidence of their role models.
“My favorite tip to help parents develop strong girls is to not fall into saying, ‘I am not a math person’ or ‘I wasn’t good at math in school either,’” Brittany says.
Though parents tend to use such language out of empathy, she notes, “Studies show that parents who show high math anxiety themselves can cause less math growth in their kids over the years. Girls are especially affected by math anxiety from the women in their life – teachers included!”
Brittany’s business sends activity booklets and learning aids to girls in the 3rd-8th grades. True to her mission, each package also contains a profile of a black woman mathematician and a “Caring Adult guide,” ensuring that girls’ STEM learning is rooted firmly in a positive, supportive family experience.
Black Girl Mathgic is currently the only subscription business designed to increase math confidence and decrease math anxiety in elementary and middle school girls. It is curated for black girls, Brittany explains, because “they sit at the intersection of persistent racial and gender gaps in STEM, but it isn’t just for black girls.”
Being passionate about STEM can lead to healthy self-esteem growth for all – so give your child a strong foundation in STEM and watch them grow comfortable in their own skin. Soon, they may be saying Brittany’s favorite quote about empowering girls: “I am a math person.”
Girls CAN! Crate
Megan, the founder of GIRLS CAN! Crate, realized she wanted to change the world the day her four-year-old daughter asked her to play a game.
“She said, ‘Mom, let's play princess and prince. You be the prince and rescue me!’” Megan remembers. “While there's nothing wrong with playing princess, I realized in this moment that my daughter needed role models that taught her that she could rescue herself, too, that she was strong, smart, kind and capable.”
Megan and three other women came together to start a subscription-model business designed to empower young girls by delivering self-esteem activities right to their doorstep. With the cheery motto “Real women make the best heroes! We deliver them,” each GIRLS CAN! Crate features a 20-page book about a different “fearless female role model,” plus play props, 2-3 hands-on STEAM activities and more.
“Sally Ride said, ‘You can't be what you can't see!’” Megan exclaims. “Representation and role models matter. My daughter has now ‘met’ dozens of real women who have shown her how much she's capable of.”