Instead of recycling another grumpy old man for president, I believe teen girls have the leadership skills to become our next commander-in-chief. You heard me, a teen girl. Such a person would bring some unique qualities and perspectives to the job that would enable them to lead our country into the future. And young female leaders have some historical precedent.
Hatshepsut became the Pharaoh of Egypt around 1500 BC. In 1443, the teenage Trung sisters organized 80,000 men and women into a revolutionary army in Viet Nam that drove out Chinese invaders. A 17-year-old peasant girl, Joan of Arc, led the French army to victory against England in 1431. Margaret Knight, at age 12, invented a stop motion device to shut off malfunctioning looms that were injuring workers in the factory that employed her. Harriet Tubman helped her first runaway slave at age 15, for which she absorbed a beating that put her into a coma for weeks. Once recovered, she went on working with the Underground Railroad, helping 300 slaves to freedom. 15-year-old Mayra Avellar Neves organized hundreds of kids in a protest march demanding that violence stop at least during school hours in the slums of Rio de Janeiro. Her actions won her the 2008 International Children’s Peace Prize. You get the picture. Girls in past times used their gifts to lead nations in unique ways.
Leadership skills young women would bring to the table today:
- A still developing brain: The adolescent brain has a lower baseline level of dopamine, but the release is higher in response to stimulating experiences. This enhanced dopamine release increases their reward drive, causing teens to gravitate towards thrills and risky behaviors. But it also opens them up to more out-of-the-box thinking with a willingness to try new, unconventional approaches and to take risks. These novel thinkers bring high energy and passion to their work, which is both refreshing and inspiring. Anyone else tired of the same old politicians droning on and on about the same things they were talking about 40 years ago? Our young female president would bring fresh perspective and ideas.
- Future oriented: Environmental activist Greta Thunberg is exhibit A for a teenager displaying intense passion for guarding the environment for future generations. Her quotes say it all. “We can’t just continue living as if there was no tomorrow, because there is a tomorrow. That is all we are saying.” Her answer to reporters about missing school to protest was priceless: “My name is Greta, I am in the ninth grade, and I am school-striking for the climate. Since you adults don’t give a damn about my future, I won’t either.” An adolescent president would care deeply about the future and coming generations because it’s personal and relevant to them.
- Perfect blend of confidence and self-doubt: High-powered teen girls I know are focused, determined, passionate, flexible, with just enough self-doubt to ask for help and collaborate. They are more others-driven than ego-driven. They care deeply about friends, animals, people in need, and their parents and grandparents. No one’s needs would be forgotten in their administration.
- Social media wizards: Girls are experts at using social media to connect with others globally. They have grown up in an international global network, whether through products, games, fashion, trends, music, and causes. Interdependence has never been more essential to our survival then it is during the current corona crisis.
- Side benefits: Teens are night owls, so I can see Madame President having no problem working with high energy and focus late into the night. Not sure what early morning meetings would look like but, heh, no one’s perfect. Having her focus on big issues outside of herself will allow her to worry less about concerns about how she looks, friend drama, and any FOMO. Our adolescent commander-in-chief would for sure bring a ton of fun, light, in-the-moment energy to the country. One final side benefit would be that there would be no time for boys, which is probably a good thing, yes?
I can hear some of you now railing about how your daughter can’t even remember to pick up her room or do her homework. You probably think her first act of business as president would be to abolish parental grounding from their phones and social media, as well as a ban on tracking devices. Maybe, and I wouldn’t blame her. I prefer to envision your daughter the president using her newfound autonomy and power to right injustice, pass long-term environmental policies, ensure that no one was left behind, and take care of the elderly, including their grandparents. Madame teen president would protect the rights of children and in particular girls globally, because she knows that good research has proven that educating girls and women is the best way to bring up any society.
The old cliché is that children are our future. We may as well let them be in charge of it.
Learn more about how to guide girls to develop leadership skills in Dr. Jordan’s book: She Leads: A Practical Guide for Raising Girls Who Advocate, Influence, and Lead