By: Ellie Quinlan and Maddie Goetzman
LeadersNow is a program at Seton LaSalle that Freshman girls are required to take to learn about leadership. It is currently facing challenges and requests for change from our current Freshman class.
Some of the girls have complained that this required program demonstrates misogyny in the pages that claim to teach girls how to be leaders. They took their complaints to their teachers and to Mrs. Martin and are now working with the LeadersNow International group to make the changes they feel are necessary.
The course includes sections that teach girls how to put on makeup, how to sit right, how to dress, and other concepts related to manners and comportment. Freshman girls, as well as older girls that have experienced this course, have expressed their discontent with the concepts being taught.
“How does learning how to do my makeup and what clothes to wear help me become a successful leader?” asks Paige Oeler, Sophomore.
Junior girls have also recalled that in their class, a lady came in and put makeup on girls to teach them how to “dress for success.”
“She put a bunch of eyeshadow and stuff on my face and it made me very uncomfortable,” said Liz Kittle, Junior.
A number of girls have said that they believe the course is not inclusive of women of color, as well as women who have more heavyset body types.
“LeadersNow is not a leadership program with so much focus on style tips and manners. In the book, there are not many ethnic women and no women with heavier body types,” says Jeana Talerico, Freshman. “They are claiming that only young white women who are a size two are the only women who can succeed in the world.”
The girls believe that these materials are not really about how to become a leader in society. There is little about leadership; and a lot of make-up and fashion do’s and don’ts.
According to Hadia Killang, Freshman, “The body unit really bothered me, along with the skin color unit because it did not include a lot of ethnic girls. It only had one African American girl,” she continued, “Girls should be allowed to express themselves and be a leader instead of worrying about their body shapes and skin color.”
The LeadersNow workbook claims that it “provides the formation and skills necessary for young women to make a positive impact in society, but it doesn’t,” Killang continued.
Some of the Freshmen girls are standing up to the program. Bella Martino and Hadia Killang are working with members from LeadersNow International to try and edit the book to make it more inclusive. Killang says, “We don’t want future young girls to have to go through a program that teaches them that their body shape and skin color define them.”
According to Martino, “We’re starting by making a survey for all the freshman girls to share their opinions about it so we can include everybody. Then we are going to remove the Body Unit and some of the Etiquette Unit. We also want to add more content about leadership, examples of women leaders, and a little more service. It’s still in progress though.”