Sheryl Sandberg and present Lean In Girls

Sheryl Sandberg and her Lean In organization are developing a new program for girls ages 11-15 designed to encourage girls to set leadership goals, manage risk, and identify and challenge bias. With a free curriculum for facilitators, the program includes empowerment activities and education around stereotypes and the importance of allyship.

Sandberg says he was inspired to create this new initiative because the adult Lean In community is growing faster than ever, with 80,000 circles in 183 countries. But recent reports suggest it will be more than 130 years before women achieve equality, so Sandberg wanted to expand the program to reach girls who are particularly vulnerable to negative social messages.

“Girls in high school are twice as likely as boys to think that having any leadership role will call them a ‘boss.’ So we realized we were too late. We have to go younger and faster,” Sandberg told CNBC. “So we’ve spent the last two years doing in-depth research, taking everything we’ve learned for adults, working with girl experts to roll out a program specifically designed for girls in this age group or anyone who identifies as a girl.”

The 15-lesson curriculum is free for public download, so any adult—a teacher, Girl Scout troop leader, or after-school program host—can gather a small group of girls to introduce them to the program. Tested lessons through KIPP Public Charter Schools, Girls Inc. and Girl Scouts of Northeast Texas are designed to tackle tough issues like stereotypes and systemic injustice in an age-appropriate way. With an emphasis on interactivity, the program includes role plays and an activity where the girls stand in a circle and stand up every time they hear something stereotypical.

“We really want girls to embrace their superpowers and lean into them. So we teach them to really value their strengths, their personalities, and see how that makes them better leaders,” says Rachel Thomas, co-founder and CEO of Lean In.

“We normalize things like risk-taking and really teach them to focus on what could go right, not what could go wrong. We normalize failure and really talk about how it’s an opportunity to learn and grow. Another big focus of the curriculum is the importance of real conversation.” about. We want girls to know that they’re going to face stereotypes that they’re going to wind up with. And we know that when girls know how to identify stereotypes and bias and push back against them, it can actually be protective and empowering for them.”

Latricia Barksdale, vice president of Lean In Girls, says she was inspired by her work in the nonprofit education space, her work with schools and school districts, and her understanding of how to create curriculum to expand Lean In to a younger demographic. It is valuable and easy to implement.

“I think this programming can be very transformative because it can help girls at a very early age understand the implicit and explicit messages they receive about who they are, who they should be, what they should be good at and what they should be able to do. they shouldn’t be. It can help them understand that the messages they’re getting aren’t about them personally.”

Sandberg says the program’s focus on bias and stereotypes was inspired by her work at Meta, where she stepped down as COO last fall.

“One of the things that I try to do at Meta, and I try to do more broadly in the world, but I really did at my own company: call it business,” Sandberg says. “We were looking at the word ‘aggressive’ in the reviews. We were talking after the #MeToo movement about men not wanting to meet a woman alone in a room. I was there, and Mark was right there with me, and we were breaking down the bias, and I think that went a long way in confronting it. And I think that went a long way toward developing some of the leaders I’m proud of who are still at Meta.”

Part of the reason Sandberg said she left Meta is to have more time to focus on initiatives like Lean In Girls: “I wanted my new chapter to really make a difference. We’ve been working on that since I’ve been at Meta. , but It meant a lot to me to be able to take the time (for this release) and really … be a bigger part of it.”

The stakes are high when it comes to empowering a new kind of leadership, Sandberg says: “We’re telling girls that you can lead on your own terms because it will be better for the world.”

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