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Katy Perry is a Role Model – And So Are You!

Every few years, it seems like a conversation about role models, specifically role models for girls, comes up in popular media. Recently Katy Perry revived this conversation, saying last weekend in an NPR interview,

“…a lot of people see me as a role model but I'd like to kind of turn that around and say I appreciate that but I'd like to be seen as an inspiration. Because a role model, I think, will fail you. I mean, I couldn't tell kids when it's time for them to try things or do things. I mean, that's not my role.”

In my opinion, being an inspiration is the same as being a role model. Also, I think it’s too bad that Katy Perry thinks that role models “will fail you”. The only way for a role model to fail, in my view, is to give the impression that their way is the ‘best’ way, or the ‘only’ way.

Every day here at Techbridge, we work with girls to help empower them to fulfill their dreams. A huge part of that work is talking to women about being role models for girls. Techbridge has 14 years of experience working with hundreds of role models to help inspire thousands of girls to build the future they want to see.

So what exactly is a role model? A role model is someone who serves as an example, or whose behavior is emulated by others. That second part is really important – if someone else tries to be like you, that makes you a role model. Meaning, you don’t get to choose if you’re a role model. Just being who you are, and intentionally or unintentionally inspiring others to be like you, MAKES you a role model.

Get it? Kids pick their role models.

Kids have lots of people to choose from when it comes to picking role models: parents, relatives, classmates, teachers, coaches, neighbors, and more. On top of that, kids between the ages of 8 and 18 are spending more than 6 hours a day online, and in that time are exposed to many more possible role models.

Although adults can try to shape kids’ choices, at the end of the day, kids are making up their own minds about who they look up to. What can adults who care do? We can recognize that each of us is a potential role model, and we can take advantage of opportunities to inspire kids to become their best self and follow their own dreams.

At Techbridge we believe that girls should have the opportunity to shoot for any career that they can imagine. We also know that a lot of girls don’t aspire to an awesome engineering or technology career because they don’t see a lot of women in those roles. We believe there would be more women in engineering and technology jobs if our culture spent more time showing girls how exciting and fulfilling those jobs are.

Role ModelSo that’s exactly what we do. We show women who love their science-related jobs how to be role models for girls in a way that will inspire girls to follow their own dreams. And, since you can’t be a role model in a vacuum, we introduce girls to these role models and give them a chance to ask questions and develop relationships.

So now that you know what a role model is, you’ve probably realized that you already ARE a role model to some young people in your life. Don’t freak out! One of the most important things about being a role model is BEING YOURSELF. That includes not being perfect (no one is).

Techbridge developed these strategies for role models to help encourage girls to consider a career in STEM (science, technology, engineering and math). Why STEM? Because it’s awesome. Who do you think makes Katy Perry’s videos, or builds her intricate sets, or creates her sound effects? Teams of people with a variety of different engineering, technology and science backgrounds!

In our role model trainings, we tell women that the girls they meet might not remember their name in the years to come. Often, what girls do remember about role models is personal, like hobbies, stories about overcoming problems, or what it was like for them growing up. Sharing their passion is one of the best ways role models can inspire girls to follow their own ideas. I think this is possibly the distinction Katy wanted to make about being an inspiration – she doesn’t want to encourage girls to be just like her, but she hopes her music and life story can inspire girls to be who they want to be. And that’s exactly what a role model does.

So check out our tips, and let us know what you think. And Katy, if you’re reading, we would LOVE to work with you and help you get more comfortable being the role model you already are!

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