Instilling a Growth Mindset In Girls
At VentureLab, we encourage creative brainstorming and zeroing in on promising ideas.
With our curriculum, girls learn to design and create a prototype, even if it is only drawn on paper. They learn to conduct research by asking friends and family their thoughts on the prototype. They follow through with their best solutions—and they think about pricing, promotion and distribution. They present and sell their solutions to an audience, usually of friends and parents. They do this to develop important entrepreneurship skills, but to practice sharing their ideas, engaging others in their creative process, and learn that good ideas are those that are brought to fruition.
Virtually every product and service they help develop involves science, technology, engineering, math, and design, so stepping into those STEAM fields later is less daunting for them. From a new kind of fashion accessory to a scientist’s tool, many product prototypes can be programed and produced on a 3-D printer. Girls are more engaged when STEM is shifted to STEAM—with the A signifying arts and design, which touches on ergonomics, aesthetics, humanity, and simplicity.
We have built STEAM elements into our entrepreneurial curriculum that instill a growth mindset in girls, building confidence in the process.
On the final day of a VentureLab program (which can be run by anyone using our curriculum), when girls invite their parents and family members to attend the pitches that they make about their entrepreneurial efforts. We have also invited role models from the community to listen to what the girls describe. The newly formed pride and professionalism of the girls is evident to everyone.
That’s because these students have developed an infectious air of confidence, both in themselves and in what they do. They have practiced and practiced pitching. They are conscious that they’ve learned a wide array of life skills. They have learned the power poses that Harvard professor Amy Cuddy has described in her book Presence: Bringing Your Boldest Self to Your Biggest Challenges, in which she urges readers to “fake it until you become it.” That is, by developing a powerful physical presence, a girl becomes more confident. Confidence doesn’t improve posture; a more powerful posture improves confidence. In other words, success comes more easily when girls adopt a presence that conveys success.
Girls (and boys) at VentureLab learn this. They are optimistic. There is no “bottom of the class,” and they most certainly aren’t in it. They know their brains have plasticity; they may even have felt the sense that their neural pathways are sparking.
Entrepreneurial learning helps girls develop a growth mindset. They cast themselves in aspirational roles, and they believe in themselves and their capabilities deeply enough to resist naysayers, overcome obstacles, and fearlessly, resourcefully dig in, extend roots, and grow.
I’d love to hear how the girls in your life developing an entrepreneurial mindset. How have you encouraged it? If you’re still searching for ways to help spark this confidence in your child or students, I’m excited to report that we are a couple of days away from the launch of our free curriculum.