ADA — Empowering young women can involve providing them with the tools, resources and opportunities they need to reach their full potential and pursue their goals. The Girls Increasing Representation Leadership Summit on Thursday at Ohio Northern University promoted the importance of leadership among young girls.
Surrounding young women with positive role models can inspire and motivate them to pursue their passions and dreams. Encouraging them to speak up and share their ideas can help them feel valued and heard. This can also help build their confidence and self-esteem. Advocating for young women and their rights can help create a more equitable society. This can involve supporting policies that promote gender equality and challenging harmful stereotypes and attitudes.
Mayors Christina Muryn, of Findlay, and Sharetta Smith, of Lima, who participated in a panel discussing their experiences as local leaders and their roles as mayors, personify positive role models. Going into the summit Smith had a goal. Smith said, “I hope that being able to see someone of their gender or someone that grew up in their area will allow these young people to see themselves in me and what is possible.”
Smith told the students that her experiences in the legal field led her to decide that if she were to really make a difference she would transition out of the legal field and become more involved in local government so she could help change conditions in communities.
Muryn also was not initially interested in politics. She had been involved in the Findlay community, and when the previous mayor announced she was leaving to take a job on the state level, some Findlay businessmen approached her. She won election in 2019 and took office in 2020.
Both mayors are role models that serve as examples of behavior, attitudes and achievements that can inspire and motivate young women to strive for excellence and reach their full leadership potential.
Research shows that there is a large gap in political socialization between boys and girls when it comes to leadership opportunities. One study finds that by middle school, girls report less interest in political activities, less knowledge of political figures, and are less likely to want a job in politics. Ohio Northern Instructor Theresa Schroeder Hageman says, “Adults are less likely to talk to girls about politics, which makes them less interested. Combine this with the fact that girls are less likely to see people that look like them in political leadership and we get fewer women seeking political leadership roles.” She adds that “the summit seeks to address the issue of lack of political socialization of girls.”
Reach Dean Brown at 567-242-0409