Inspired girls grow into inspiring women

A couple of weeks back, a friend at Google emailed us to pass on an invitation to an event they were hosting over lunch with Miriam Gonzalez. I must admit I did not know who Miriam Gonzalez was at the time, but the lunch talk was going to be about girls in tech, and that’s a topic I hold close to my heart.

Let’s just say I would have missed a lot if I didn’t go. Miriam is a fascinating lady, smart, gorgeous and outspoken, who put together the amazing “Inspiring Girls” project. It does exactly what it says on the tin: it’s dedicated to raising the aspirations of young girls around the world by connecting them with female role models.

The story of this project and its impact hit home. Showing little girls what’s out there and the limitless opportunities to reach for their dreams is probably the most significant contribution that we can make to a
gender equal society.

I often think about this – I grew up in a small town in North-East Romania, which as you can imagine was not the most liberal or progressive on gender issues. Far from being in a perfect family (do those even exist?), I
always knew I could do and be anything I wanted to do or be. My father was patient and calm, always, even when I was least deserving of any patience and calm. My mother is one of the most powerful and complex characters I’ve ever encountered in this life. She knew which buttons to push when and she figured out the right balance between mother and friend. They both genuinely believed I could be the best at school, I could go to the best university, I could win that national competition – they always believed and I always felt that. That stuff matters!

 

Moreover, my role models throughout school were women. My Romanian language and literature teacher at secondary school is someone I developed a close relationship with and from whom I learnt a lot in those delicate years. My Latin teacher at high school has been an astonishing role model. It is from her that I learnt that hard work, success and humility are not mutually exclusive. Both were teachers that I admired beyond their teaching skills. I admired them for their character, for their dedication, ultimately for their own success. To this day, I look up to them – they are game-changers in a society that needs more and more of them.

And, in the end, this is what it comes down to. Would I still be where I am now and doing what I am doing now, if I replaced these four people with any other four people? Definitely not. And that’s valid for all of us – you may be smart or gifted, but if there’s no one to tell you what’s out there and no one to push you towards dreaming big and going towards those dreams, it’s a hard job on one’s own. Girls that were inspired to go out there and
fight for their dreams will grow into sources of inspiration for other young girls.

That’s why I think Miriam’s work is absolutely fantastic. A recent study shows that already by the age of 6, girls lose faith in their talents. These are devastating statistics – what do we, society, family, school do to these girls that by the age of 6 they already feel less innately talented than boys? It’s everyone’s business to figure out the answers and solutions to these questions. And, if no better idea comes to mind, then how about you support Inspiring Girls and the amazing work this project is carrying out around the world?

Everyone needs role models. And we certainly do not lack female role models – there’s tons of those in all professions and from all walks of life. But if you are less fortunate than I was and don’t have female role
models in your family or at school, then we need more projects and initiatives like Miriam’s to make sure all little girls are given the opportunity to dream big. After all, you have to dream for your dreams to come true.

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