If a girl has never seen women participating in sport, it will be virtually impossible for her to imagine playing herself. Similarly, if she sees a woman training to be a doctor, she is raised to believe she, too, can be a doctor. When a girl sees a woman who grew up in her region, and who has faced the same challenges she faces, speaking out for herself and walking and playing proudly, that girl’s sense of what she can do expands exponentially. When a girl sees a woman who is married and still playing sport, she realizes that becoming a wife doesn’t mean giving up her passions. Strong female coaches who show just as much understanding and command of a sport as male coaches challenge a common stereotype, often held by girls themselves, that male coaches have more expertise than women.
Girls need role models to not just show them their limitless potential in sport and life, but to show them how one achieves success across spheres. Too often, girls are not exposed to a diversity of role models, limiting their visions for their own potential.
- Regularly expose the girls in your programme to positive, strong women role models. Invite successful women, athletes and community members to be guest speakers or do training sessions with your group. Encourage girls to be positive role models for one another by sharing their successes outside of sport during group discussions.
- Try making it a policy in your programme to promote women coaches and leaders, even if it means you won’t be the team that always wins. By doing this, you are creating an atmosphere of leadership development that sets an example and provides role models from within your organisation.
- Use powerful images of strong female role models (in and outside of sport) that can help girls visualize who a role model might be. Examples could be to put up posters around your office or in sport changing rooms where girls frequently go. Coaches or facilitators could also start sessions showing pictures of powerful females and hold a quick discussion about who she is and what she might represent to them.