When I was a young girl growing up in the ‘60s and ‘70s, the “popular” girls were cute and poised, fun and flirty. I was none of those things. I was the “nerd” with her head in a book, sitting in the front row of every classroom and always raising her hand. I was bullied for being “the smart girl”.
Fast forward to today. Women are making inroads in every sphere: STEM, business, politics. In 2019, it’s “cool” to be “the smart girl”. I’ve been mentoring one for four years. Her name is Myiah, she lives in poverty, but she drinks in knowledge with a passion. And it’s MY passion to make sure she is fed! Twice a week, we get together to play math games, do science experiments, explore museums, visit the library and challenge each other to spell “really hard words” (her words) in a game she calls “Spelling Bee”.
I want Myiah to be “smart”: to know her math facts inside-out, to read above grade-level, to effectively articulate her thoughts on paper and in spoken communication. But I want more than that for her: I want her to be brave, I want her to be a risk-taker.
Men and women are very different by nature. It’s very apparent in my business when I counsel either couples or individuals. Nine times out of ten, women are more risk-averse than men when it comes to investing. That’s not surprising. Most women value safety over return. It circles back to the study results that you’ve all probably heard: if there are ten prerequisites in a job posting, men will apply if they can check off one or two prerequisites, but equally qualified women won’t apply unless they can check off all ten. Mind-blowing, right?! Yes, women are making strides, but we’re still woefully behind.
That’s why I want to teach Myiah bravery. I want her to push aside the fears that naysayers will try to heap upon her, learn how to pick herself back up when she does inevitably make a mistake and brashly go her own way in taking risks on her path to her dreams. We talk a lot about how women can be astronauts or engineers or even business owners! I love bringing her to my office and letting her sit in my big chair and play with my adding machine and make copies. I want her to live a life brimming over with possibility. I challenge you: let’s raise ALL of our children to be brave!