Sheryl Sandberg and launch Lean In Girls initiative: ‘We’re telling girls you can lead on your own terms’


Sheryl Sandberg and her organization, Lean In, are introducing a new program aimed at girls aged 11 to 15. The program's objective is to encourage these girls to set leadership goals, navigate risks, and challenge biases. With a curriculum available for facilitators, the program combines activities to build strengths with education on stereotypes and the value of allyship.

Sandberg's motivation for this initiative stems from the success of the adult Lean In community, which has seen significant growth with 80,000 circles across 183 countries. Despite this progress, recent reports suggest that it will take over 130 years for women to achieve equality. To address this, Sandberg aims to reach girls while they are still susceptible to negative societal messages.

Based on two years of in-depth research and collaboration with experts in girl-focused areas, Lean In developed a 15-lesson curriculum specifically tailored for girls in this age group. The curriculum is freely available for download, allowing any adult, such as teachers, girl scout troop leaders, or after-school program facilitators, to introduce the program to a small group of girls. The lessons have been piloted through various organizations, including KIPP Public Charter Schools, Girls Inc, and the Girl Scouts of Northeast Texas, and they focus on addressing challenging issues like stereotypes and systemic unfairness in an age-appropriate manner.

The program emphasizes interactivity and includes activities such as roleplay games and a circle activity where girls stomp whenever they hear a stereotype. The goal is to help girls embrace their strengths, value their identities, and recognize how these qualities make them capable leaders. The curriculum normalizes risk-taking, emphasizing a positive outlook on potential outcomes and framing failure as an opportunity for learning and growth. Additionally, it highlights the importance of "real talk" wherein girls learn to identify and push back against stereotypes and biases, empowering and protecting them.

Looking at the expansion to a younger demographic, Latricia Barksdale, VP of Lean In Girls, drew inspiration from her experience in the non-profit education sector. Her involvement with schools and districts helped her create a valuable and easy-to-implement curriculum.

Sandberg's involvement with Meta, where she previously served as COO, influenced the program's focus on addressing bias and stereotypes. At Meta, she actively called out biases, such as evaluating employee reviews for the word "aggressive" and addressing concerns arising from the #MeToo movement. Sandberg believes that by actively addressing and confronting biases, progress can be made, as evidenced by the development of strong leaders within Meta.

Sandberg's decision to focus more on initiatives like Lean In Girls led to her departure from Meta. She wanted to dedicate her time and efforts to making a meaningful difference. While the program's development began during her time at Meta, Sandberg now has more capacity to contribute to its success and considers it an important part of her new chapter.

Empowering a new type of leadership holds significant importance, as Lean In Girls aims to inform girls that they can lead on their own terms, ultimately benefiting the world as a whole. 

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