Research shows that only 14% of girls in Grade Ten feel self-confident.
Sure, confidence is wonderful—a nice cherry on the top of life—but don’t lots of people succeed in life despite their insecurities?
As it turns out, confidence is at the root of a surprising number of life outcomes for girls.
Here’s 5 reasons why it’s important to help girls build their confidence:
- Improved school grades. Research shows that an undue focus on outward appearance impairs girls’ ability to focus and concentrate. For girls, improved confidence and a healthy body image may lead to improved academic outcomes.
- Better physical health. A lack of confidence about one’s appearance makes you less likely to be physically active—a major reason why only 11% of girls aged 16-17 are physically active enough to benefit their health. Girls who are self-conscious about their appearance actually limit their physical movements during sports. In one study, the girls who were most concerned about how they looked scored the lowest in a simple ball-throwing test.
- A stronger voice. Confident girls are more likely to speak out against bullying, and to tell an adult if they experience sexual harassment or assault. One of the main reasons girls lack confidence is the constant exposure to highly sexualized images of women in media. Research shows this onslaught causes girls to be highly critical of their bodies, undermining their confidence and increasing feelings of shame, anxiety and self-disgust.
- More career choices. Girlswho are confident in their own abilities and their ability to learn and meet challenges are more likely to explore careers that don’t fit the traditional idea of “women’s work.” Research shows that girls chronically underestimate their math abilities and tend to drop out of higher level mathematics in high school. Building their confidence will help girls know they can succeed in all careers, including science, technology, engineering and math.
- Higher earning potential.Over her lifetime, the average woman will earn about 65% of the wages of the average man—only $519,600 compared to $803,000. Not surprisingly, ‘non-traditional’ jobs are more likely to be higher paid and offer more opportunity for advancement. Also, it takes confidence to ask for a raise, take on leadership, and advocate for fair workplace policies—all of which can boost your lifetime earnings.
Building confidence is essential if girls are to reach their full potential, and research shows the fastest way to build confidence is to connect girls with a mentor.
The Canadian Women’s Foundation invests in programs across Canada that help girls to build their confidence. According to a recent evaluation, parents reported the programs helped their daughters to become more confident, less shy, and more physically active. Ninety-three percent of the girls said they felt more confident, were more able to deal with bullying and had better communication and problem-solving skills.
Best of all, they said they felt better about being a girl.
Support our confidence campaign this December to help a girl believe in herself.