This Giving Tuesday, we are feeling inspired by Melinda Gates’ recent $1 billion pledge “to expand women’s power and influence in the United States.” She rightly points out that gender equality is a vastly underfunded issue area.
Setting women up to succeed in life and in leadership starts with supporting healthy, happy communities and raising strong, confident girls.
However, many of our institutions are failing to accomplish this. According to a KPMG Women’s Leadership Study, by adulthood, less than half of women personally identify with feeling confident despite recognizing confidence as a key leadership trait. We need to reverse this confidence deficit to reach gender parity in leadership.
So, how can funders make a greater impact in advancing gender equality? We have compiled our “good ideas for the taking” below.
Female Participation in Sports
Sports are a natural catalyst for leadership development. In fact, a joint study by EY and espnW found that 94% of women in executive level leadership played a sport while growing up. However, girls’ participation in sports is on the decline. The Aspen Institute’s Project Play finds that girls are two to three times more likely than boys to drop out of sports between 8th and 12th grades due to lack of access, prioritization of academics, and high costs of participation.
Funders can support female athletic programs by:
Female Representation in Male-Dominated Fields
We have established that there is a women’s leadership gap. Worse, women are drastically outnumbered in several of the economy’s most dominant fields. Females are underrepresented in these fields in part because our society unconsciously trains girls to associate certain activities with boys at an extremely early age. In a University of Washington study, the six-year-old girls surveyed held stereotypes that boys are superior at programming and robotics. However, when given the opportunity to try these types of activities, the same girls exhibited similar levels of interest and self-efficacy for programming and robotics as boys. Regardless of the associated gender stereotypes, girls should be exposed to a variety of activities when they are young and encouraged to continue pursuing their interests.
Funders can reduce gender stereotypes and expand female representation in male-dominated fields by:
Female Mentorship Opportunities
Quality mentorship is critical to women’s success and ascent to power. However, many mentoring programs are targeted toward women in the workforce. While these programs are beneficial, girls and young women often need support earlier on to help them enter the workforce. A study by Canada’s Centre for Addiction and Mental Health finds that girls who participate in formalized mentoring programs are more academically motivated, exhibit fewer behavioral problems and gain expanded professional networks.
Funders can facilitate effective mentorship programs in-person and online by:
Melinda Gates is right – gender equality can’t wait. Let’s get to work.
With the 2020 elections quickly approaching, everyone needs to be ready to participate. We are all better off with a healthy democracy, and businesses play an essential role in promoting civic engagement in their employees, customers and communities.
In 2014, 35% of nonvoters cited conflicts with work or school as the main reason for their lack of participation in the election. Fortunately, making voting as convenient as possible for your employees does not need to be difficult. Employers can directly increase voter participation by setting voter-friendly policies and doing their part to remind their employees of upcoming elections and options.
It is important to remember that the right to vote is a civil right, and in many states, employers are required to provide employees with time to vote. (You can check your state’s specific laws here.) For those here in California, employers are required to post a “time off to vote” notice informing employees of their right to paid time off to vote, if they cannot otherwise vote during non-work hours.
Other than these official requirements by state law, why should employers encourage their employees to vote? Take it from Wharton, or Inc.com: employees who vote also feel more empowered in their workplaces, become better informed about the world and develop more empathy for their communities.
Businesses are already recognizing that they have a moral obligation to encourage civic engagement. Time to Vote is a growing, national coalition of companies such as Walmart, Patagonia and Tyson, committed to implementing programs that increase voter participation.
The time to get involved in nonpartisan efforts to strengthen our democracy is now, regardless of how large your company is. To get started, we have outlined some “good ideas for the taking” below:
Here’s a list to get started:
With back to school season upon us, school preparedness should be at the top of our minds.
The early years of a child’s life are incredibly important for their lifetime brain development. According to First Things First Arizona, a baby’s brain grows to 80% of adult size by age 3. “The amount and quality of care, stimulation and interaction [babies] receive in their early years makes all the difference” in developing these brain connections.
Unfortunately, traditional models of early childhood education are expensive and not guaranteed to be of high-quality. The Center for American Progress finds that families that opt for center-based care can spend about 30% of the median U.S. household income, comparable to the average in-state college tuition, even though only 10% of all childcare programs are considered high-quality.
Home-based parenting practices fill some gaps. Research by Penn State finds that parent-child reading and learning activities are critical for a child’s development during preschool. Fostering a positive learning environment at home is essential for babies to be healthy and successful later in life, yet many do not receive the support they need to maximize these opportunities for early brain development. Therefore, it is crucial that families and caretakers are fully equipped to help children learn in their earliest years.
Thankfully, the philanthropic community can help. Check out our first edition of, “Good Ideas for the Taking” to get started!
Minimal Effort: Increase Awareness
Some Effort: Build Community
Significant Effort: Create an Ecosystem