The Role Model Effect: Women Leaders Key To Inspiring The Next Generation


World With A View
A global perspective of women, business and culture

Eva Pereira, Forbes Staff
January 19, 2012



Sonia Ghandi

When it comes to motivating young women, lead by example. A recent study co-authored by MIT economist Esther Duflo, underscores just how important female leaders are for the attitudes and ambitions of young women.

As reported in Huffington Post Women, Researchers focused on the West Bengal region of India, where quotas for female politicians in local governments have been in place since 1993. Families with children ages 11-15 in 495 villages were surveyed for attitudes on education and achievement and then compared against villages without any female political leadership, only men.

The results were astounding. In areas with long-serving female leaders in local government, the gender gap in teen education goals disappeared, due to the fact that girls had set higher goals for themselves. Parents were also 25% more likely to report having more ambitious education goals for their daughters, significantly narrowing the gender gap.

“We think this is due to a role-model effect: Seeing women in charge persuaded parents and teens that women can run things, and increased their ambitions. Changing perceptions and giving hope can have an impact on reality,” says Duflo.

Conversely, in villages with only men leaders, they found a huge divide in expectations for girls and boys. Parents were 45% less likely to want their girls to graduate from school compared to their boys. Teens were also divided by gender on the issue educational goals, with girls 32% less likely to want to complete school.

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Author: Leslie Carol Botha

Author, publisher, radio talk show host and internationally recognized expert on women's hormone cycles. Social/political activist on Gardasil the HPV vaccine for adolescent girls. Co-author of "Understanding Your Mood, Mind and Hormone Cycle." Honorary advisory board member for the Foundation for the Study of Cycles and member of the Society for Menstrual Cycle Research.