By Deb Cummins, Guest Blogger

On April 25, 2017, we had the pleasure of joining the Girl Scouts of Eastern Pennsylvania as they celebrated 100 years scouting. Brownies served as table ambassadors while older girls took the lead from the stage. It was an impressive night that made Jane Wells Schooley and I feel proud to have been Girl Scouts. The theme for the night was “Celebrate Women Leaders Making a Difference”…and we did.

Less than 3 months ago, we celebrated the launch of Northstar Team Development’s new division, Northstar Women Leaders. Our vision is “to powerfully change the lives of women by being a catalyst for their personal transformation and leadership development at all stages of their career.”

This week alone, we interacted with girls from age 7 to women in their seventies. Each time we are in conversation with a female we are affirmed around the work we are doing in this space. We need to be concerned for and committed to the development of women at all stages of their life.

Recently, we found a powerful book entitled “Transforming Leadership” by the Girl Scouts of America. Their model speaks to the various components of the leadership experience and their tie to the larger goal that girls have the courage, confidence, and character to make the world a better place. When Discover, Connect, and Take Action activities are girl-led and involve learning by doing and cooperative learning, girls achieve the desired and expected short-term leadership outcomes.  Ultimately, this fulfills the Girl Scout mission.

In Girl Scouts, leadership isn’t just about building future leaders—it’s about building girl leaders for today. —Kathy Cloninger, CEO, Girl Scouts of the USA

Making Caring Common is a project of the Harvard Graduate School of Education.  It helps educators, parents and communities raise children who are caring, responsible to their communities, and committed to justice. In a study entitled “Are Teen Girls Leaning Out” researchers interviewed 17,000 students (boys and girls). The results suggest that teen girls both hold biases and suffer from biases that may corrode their relationships and sense of justice, sap their confidence in their leadership potential, and dampen their desire to seek leadership positions.

At the collegiate level, the debate over the value of a single sex education continues with proponents advocating for safe places for young women to practice and bring to life their leadership skills.  A 2014 landmark survey of more than 3,000 professional and college-aged women was conducted, exploring the qualities and experiences that contribute to women’s leadership and advancement.

Six in ten of professional working women who responded to the survey indicated that they aspire to be a senior leader of a company or organization. Yet, more than half of the women agree that, “as women” they are more cautious in taking steps toward leadership roles and six in ten find it hard to see themselves as a leader.  Everything from support, mindset changes and work family consideration Impact thinking and action.

And of course, the realities of being female in 2017 are palpable. “Women remain a distressingly small fraction of leaders in certain fields, including business and politics. Less than 20% of members of Congress are women, and only 5% of Fortune 500 companies are led by women (Covert, 2015; Parker et al., 2015). The New York Times noted that there are fewer female heads of S&P 500 companies than male heads named “John” (Wolfers, 2015).

Yet, here is the bottom line… Companies with the best record for promoting women outperformed industry revenue averages by a whopping 46%. Yet, 70% of U.S.‑based corporations have no clearly defined strategy for developing women for leadership roles. (Mercer)

Whether you are a parent, a spouse, a corporate leader or the President of the United States, we as a society owe our girls a developmental approach to their leadership. And at Northstar Women Leaders we have the vision, understanding of the impact of gender and leadership coaching and master classes for all stages of women’s careers.  It is time!