Girls are twice as likely as boys to worry that leadership roles will make them seem bossy. Between elementary and high school, a girl’s self-esteem drops 3.5 times more than boys. Women are more like than men to suffer from imposter syndrome (phenomenon where individuals are plagued with self-doubt). Despite all external evidence that they are competent, women still feel like they are a fraud. A study showed that replacing a woman’s name with a man’s on a resume can increase her ‘worthiness of hire’ by 60%.
Taking into account this situation emerged Nerdy Girl Success, a nonprofit that works with high school girls. The focus is on career leadership training. It is exposing them to careers across all industries (especially those not typically introduced to girls). Everything from entrepreneurship to the trades. Along with that they are teaching them the soft skills necessary for career success (networking, negotiation, mentorship). They learn all of this from women who are leaders in their industries. They are intentional in who they seek to speak to the girls to make sure that all groups are represented. It is important that the girls can look to the front of the room and see themselves represented. Prior to the pandemic, they had clubs in a couple of area (Houston) high schools and doing in person events. Now they are serving girls across the country with their virtual events.
I interviewed the Founder & Executive Director of Nerdy Girl Success, Christina Meade to learn more about this great initiative.
How long have you been doing this?
Officially, Nerdy Girl Success is 2 years old. However, I started doing this work about 4 years ago with the first Summer Business Camp for Girls.
Where this idea came from?
The inspiration came from a lot of places/phases in my life. The tipping point I guess you could say was shortly after I left teaching to join my husband in his business, I started noticing some things, lots of things actually about the business world, the leadership world that seemed to be the same as it was as when I was in high school. It just seemed that by now, we should have more, way more women in leadership positions in all industries. I started doing research into why this was and thinking about what I could do to make a change. As I talked to women, we kept making the comment that we wished we had been taught so many things while we were in high school. With my background in education, it seemed like a natural fit for me to bring this kind of programming to high school girls.
Do you have any sponsors? If yes who?
We have several sponsors. SabinoCompTech, Rath Law, Simmons & Fletcher, NAWIC, Andrea Sagar and Richard & Sarah Cain.
Do you have some metrics: the number of girls you are impacting, etc.
We work with girls across all socio-economic demographics and with girls across the country. In 2019 we worked with 139 girls and had 90 volunteers for 263 hours. So far this year, we have worked with 115 girls and have had 59 volunteers for 63 hours.
Who plans the topics included in the program and why those themes?
Our program director, Chidinma Aham-Neze, and I do a lot of the planning. But we get input from our Teen Advisory Board which is made up of about 10 high school girls from around the country.
What is the profile of the leader you invite to speak to the girls?
Generally, the women that come to speak to the girls are in leadership positions within the industry we are highlighting. For example, in the upcoming 'Women in Tech' summit, we have a VP with Hewlett Packard as one of the speakers. Some of the women are there as a motivational speaker while other women are teaching the girls different career skills.
Do you charge for the programs?
Depends on the program but generally, no. The programs are provided for free for the girls. We seek corporate sponsors for the events to provide the programs free of charge to the girls. When we host our summer programs, there is a minimal fee of $100 for the week.
Can any high school participate?
Yes. Currently, our programming is all done virtually. And we are working out how to deliver in person programs via chapters around the country and internationally.
For more information https://www.nerdygirlsuccess.com/about-us