Dr. Katie Clonan-Roy, assistant professor of Curriculum and Foundations in the College of Education and Human Services, contributed insightful research for a recently released national study called “Ready to Lead,” examining factors of leadership in Girls of Color.
The study, released in partnership with Girls Leadership, an organization dedicated to teaching girls how to exercise the power of their voice, explores personal, societal, and structural factors that deeply impact Black and Latinx girls’ leadership identity, aspiration, and skill development.
“While we have made many positive steps forward in supporting girls’ education and development, serious and systemic barriers remain and impact the trajectories of Girls of Color in our society,” shared Dr. Clonan-Roy. “Research shows that Black and Latinx girls, specifically, possess specific leadership competencies, and yet these competencies are not often recognized or nurtured in schools and other social spaces.”
The study identifies three key findings: Black and Latinx girls are ready to lead; families and communities develop leaders; and bias remains a key barrier to leadership.
Dr. Clonon-Roy hopes “Ready to Lead” encourages policymakers to shift the lens of their focus away from data that centers on the experiences of white, cisgender, and often middle-class girls, and instead lead discussions, conduct research, and develop policy with the strengths of, needs of, and support systems for girls of color as drivers for their work.
“This research, ‘Ready to Lead’, is incredibly necessary because it illuminates the strengths of Black and Latinx girls, related to leadership, and the barriers they face in exercising leadership skills,” Dr Clonan-Roy explained. “It is our aim, that by recognizing and understanding these strengths and barriers, we can support Black and Latinx girls in activating their potential, and dismantle barriers that hinder their leadership.”
Dr. Clonan-Roy and close colleague, Dr. Charlotte Jacobs of the University of Pennsylvania’s Graduate School of Education, recently founded the EnGenderED Research Collaborative intersectional educational inequities. The collaborative partners with scholars, practitioners, and activists to study how gender influences the daily lives of young people in schools and communities. Dr. Jacobs also served as cabinet member, contributing to the “Ready to Lead” study.
Read the report and learn more about Girls Leadership here.