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Thursday, November 20, 2014

BusinessView: Survey finds youth mentorship is a strong driver of confidence in Canadian women

A new study from the Canadian Women's Foundationfinds that having a mentor in your youth is a strong driver of confidence in adulthood. Among those women that cited having low self-confidence (32%), close to three-quarters (72%) believe that they would be more confident now if they had a mentor in their youth.


Among the 50% of Canadian women that had a positive mentor in their youth, an overwhelming majority of Canadian women (83%) believe they are confident now because of it.

"Building confidence doesn't happen overnight; it's a life-long process that begins at an early age," says Beth Malcolm, Director Girls' Fund at the Canadian Women's Foundation. "For girls, having a positive mentor in their lives, who offers non-judgemental support and helps them identify their unique strengths, is key to building their confidence as they grow up."

According to the survey, an overwhelming majority of Canadians (63%) are more likely to think that young girls look up to movie stars and pop stars the most compared to near zero levels for scientists (only 2%) and writers/authors (only 6%). In a culture where women and girls' self-worth is measured against idealized and unrealistic images of beauty, confidence begins to erode as women/girls believe their worth comes from their physical appearance rather than intelligence, courage, curiosity or critical thinking skills.

Samantha Cochrane, Manager of Girls' Mentoring at the Canadian Women's Foundation, adds: "At the Canadian Women's Foundation, we want every girl to believe in herself and realize she matters. A mentor can help girls move into confidence by not only modeling a positive lifestyle, but also encouraging and believing in the mentees. A mentor becomes that someone a girl can openly discuss their life challenges with, that person who encourages positive choices."

Other findings in the study revealed:
  • Less than half of Canadians (48%) had a mentor in their youth.
  • About 6 out of 10 very confident Canadians had a mentor in their youth (59%).
  • Two-thirds of Canadians (64%) do not think that girls look up to their parents most.
  • Slightly under a quarter of Canadians think that girls look up to siblings (24%) or teachers (22%).
  • Only 14% of Canadians think young girls look up to athletes.