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Self esteem and dressing for success

Dress for Success is an organization based in New York that works to promote the economic independence of low income women by providing professional attire, a network of support and career development tools. Dress for Success has more than 125 affiliates in the United States, Australia, Canada, New Zealand, the Netherlands, the United Kingdom, Ireland, Mexico, Poland, Portugal, France, Luxembourg and the West Indies. The Girl Scouts' mission is to build girls of courage, confidence, and character, who make the world a better place. The organization was founded in 1912 and has reached tens of millions of people. There are currently over 3 million active members in over 90 countries.

Photo of Jason Rissman
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Urban areas are full of potential connections, and they offer empowerment opportunities for women of all income levels. Taking advantage of these opportunities, however, requires more than just meeting one's basic needs. Self esteem, networking skills and sometimes even the right clothes can make a difference. Dress for Success is one organization that has made an impact in this area. Although it has a completely different focus, Girl Scouts is another success story in helping empower girls by building self esteem.

What other efforts like this are making a difference? Is it even possible to focus on self esteem in situations where basic needs and safety aren't yet secure? Aren't they inextricably linked?


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Photo of Lana Criggs

Thank you Jason for directing our attention to the sustained efforts of Girl Scouts in building the confidence and character of girls around the world.

Recently Girl Scouts has partnered with the LeanIn organization to further strengthen the leadership muscles of girls through the Ban Bossy campaign:
There are fundamental differences in the way girls and boys are treated when they assert themselves - boys are called ‘leaders’ while girls are called ‘bossy’. By middle school girls are less interested in leading than boys and twice as likely to worry that leadership roles will make them seem ‘bossy’. Also, girls’ self-esteem drops 3.5 times more than boys’.
The Ban Bossy campaign raises awareness for these issues and encourages parents, teachers and managers to change their attitude and behavior by providing concrete tips for them. For teacher this can mean giving girls as much airtime in class as boys - calling on girls more and interrupting them less.
There are small behavioral changes everyone can make, that have a big impact on girl’s confidence and ambitions. In turn empowered girls and women can better advocate for themselves and slowly shift society’s attitudes in a positive direction. As Jason suggested, the way girls and women see themselves is inextricably linked to the social attitudes they are encountering and the problems they are facing.

Photo of Jason Rissman

Thanks Lana! BanBossy looks like a really good effort. So interesting to note the "leaders" vs "bossy" distinction.