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Are Young Women Being Encouraged Enough to Pursue Leadership Roles?

Are Young Women Being Encouraged Enough to Pursue Leadership Roles?

The path toward breaking the glass ceiling isn't always an easy one.

A new report reveals that people develop biases against women in leadership roles at a young age. 

The report is from Harvard's Making Caring Common project which surveyed about 19,800 middle and high school aged students. The students were told their school's principal was giving more authority to a student council, and researchers wanted to know if the student council members' gender or race would affect responses from students, reports Refinery 29. They also wanted to learn whether each respondents' own gender or race would factor into their opinion. 

Results showed that overall, respondents were most likely to support the student council when it was led by white boys and were least likely to support a student council led by white girls.

However, smaller surveys taken within the study showed that a majority of boys and girls had no preference toward genders for political leaders. These other surveys also revealed that 8 percent of girls said that girls are better leaders and that girls were just as likely to believe they'd become effective leaders in the future.

Authors of the report point out that growing up with implicit gender biases creates "an invisible barrier to leadership." They also point out that examples set by girls in the media and by their parents, influence the formation of their opinions about gender, whether people fully realize those influencers or not. 

In order to help break biases, we need to shed light on them and get the conversation going until things begin to change. Read the full report on Teen Girls and Leadership Bias here.

NEXT: Maria Shriver On the Benefits of Feminine Leadership »

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Photo Credit: Alys Tomlinson via Getty Images