Learning to Lead

Challenging Girls in Rural Chinese Schools

in Girlhood Studies
Author: Heidi Ross and Lei Wang
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Leadership training is often described as an important component and goal of girls' secondary education and also a crucial step for realizing gender equality. This paper explores the possibilities for and barriers to effective leadership training in one "Spring Bud" girls' education project conducted in a poverty-stricken area of Shaanxi Province since 2001. Following a review of the Chinese and international literature on girls' secondary education and leadership training, the authors explore different understandings of "leadership" (and empowerment) among various project stakeholders and indicate the urgency of a mutual understanding of "leadership" and how it might be mentored in girls in formal educational settings. Authors draw upon interviews, observations, student writing, as well as the results of a 2006 survey of nearly 1,000 participating girls and their homeroom teachers, in their discussion of how to connect the concept of "leadership training" with the resources and constraints that shape girls' lives and future educational and career expectations and aspirations. The paper concludes with policy implications.

Girlhood Studies

An Interdisciplinary Journal