#Likeagirl, Evidence, and Leadership

Always asks us what it means to do things like a girl, and in the process illustrates a fascinating leadership concept.

If you watched the NFL’s Super Bowl tonight, you may have caught a glimpse of a commercial advertisement that doubtless cost millions of dollars to produce and present during the time of the world’s most expensive ad buy.

The ad is by Always, the maker of feminine products and a member of Procter & Gamble’s stable of brands. I learned within the last few minutes that the video is not new; but I just saw it.

If you’ve seen it, forgive my late-to-the-game reaction and thoughts; but I hope you’ll read on.

I can’t do the commercial justice, so I’m just going to link it here and hope you’ll take a few minutes to watch it.

The operative phrase in this spot is

A girl’s confidence plummets during puberty.

It is a call to action to support girls’ confidence and fight the “like a girl” stereotype.

The ad challenges us to understand that girls, prior to 10 years of age, have no idea that to be told they throw, run, or fight “like a girl” is an insult of the most dangerous kind–a socially acceptable one.

No, I don’t fit the mold of someone who opines on commercials by makers of feminine products. Nor do I represent the most likely demographic to jot down a post related to important women’s issues.

But I have a young daughter.

And this spot got me thinking.

If girls the world over–like my daughter–can go from thinking that they run, throw, and fight strong at age 10 to partaking in the general ethos that their actions are not only inferior, but comedic by age 12…

…what is happening to people’s confidence in so many other arenas due to similar social pressures?

It’s probable that we chase a significant proportion of young women out of arenas they may excel within because they “don’t fit the mold.” This has been studied repeatedly.

It’s a real failure of leadership.

And that’s not just a failure when it comes to leading young women…It’s a failure when it comes to people of all types.

I’ve written plenty on the need for evidence-based leadership.

This one is no different.

Show me how you throw. Show me how fast you run. Show me how you lead. Show me your ideas. Don’t succumb to stereotypes and prejudice.

Speak up.

Show up.

How many professionals, men and women, live with the lack of confidence that comes from these types of dismissals and this type of derision?

As someone in the “degreed” class who has been around a few organizations over time, I’ve witnessed countless dismissals of highly valid points of view due to educational background, national background, or lack of facility with a second language. I’ve seen it because of the way someone looks or dresses. I’ve even seen it because a person grew up in the wrong corporate function or attended the wrong college.

And, sadly, yes, I’ve seen it because of gender.

Such prejudice shuts people up…quickly. It stifles sharing of talents and in its worst guise amputates aspirations that could benefit most any enterprise.

What I’m saying is that in the professional arena, #likeagirl could also be #likeahighschoolgrad or #likeamanufacturingmanager or #likeanonenglishspeaker or #liketheydidntattendharvard.

In other words, they are insults that really shouldn’t be–choices and mindsets that divide and dismiss vs. listen and consider.

Always, with a very interesting ad, is just saying “watch it, because its insulting to imply that girls can’t accomplish these things.”

I’m saying the same thing.

As leaders, we could learn a lot from this video.

Look for evidence.

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