GIRLS FORUM: Kathy Cloninger--Developing Girls of Courage, Confidence, and Character

February 11, 2009 posted by admin According to a recent report by the Inter-Parliamentary Union, the United States ranks 69th in the world in female representation in our national legislature (just below Tajikistan and Uzbekistan, which tied for 68th). And the situation isn’t improving quickly; it’s been estimated that if we continue adding women in Congress at the current rate, we will reach parity in about 500 years. Women are grossly underrepresented not only in politics but in business; while we make up 51.3% of the population, but we account for only 15.7% of Fortune 500 corporate officers and 2% of Fortune 500 CEOs. This is not only a flagrant waste of brainpower, it’s dangerous; a number of people have made the observation that a higher proportion of women on Wall Street might well have prevented the economic meltdown we’re all suffering from. In other words, we have a leadership problem in this country,

and the inauguration of President Obama hasn’t changed it (though millions of us, myself included, regard it as extremely good news). The problem is too big and too pervasive, for any one person, or any one administration to deal with; it’s going to take all of us. At the Girl Scouts we spend a lot of time studying how girls become leaders, both formally through the Girl Scout Research Institute and by paying attention to our nearly three million girl members. Essentially we try to help girls learn to do three things: know and trust themselves, develop healthy relationships with each other, and cooperate to make the world a better place. We’re working hard to refine and improve our program, and to reach more girls with it. We have to; that 500 years business is just plain old unacceptable. —Kathy Cloninger, Chief Executive Officer, Girl Scouts of the USA  This post is part of a forum.

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