EmpowHER -- Inspiring Young Women to Lead

A board game to gamify leadership education for middle school aged girls

Photo of Taylor
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703-220-4517 Virginia: Manassas (20109)

Date You Started Your Project Started


Project Stage: Select the description below that best applies to your approach.

  • Start-Up (first few activities have happened)

1. The Problem: What problem are you helping to solve?

Only 3% of Fortune 500 CEOs are women. Less than 1.5% of the nation’s governors have been women. This has been the status quo of female leadership for far too long. Women are ready and waiting for opportunities to arise where they can showcase their leadership skills! However, they often aren't given the same chances as men to be leaders in their communities and the workplace. My solution is access to quality education and opportunities to lead!

2. Your Solution: How are you planning to solve this problem? Share your specific approach.

I created a board game that teaches middle school aged girls leadership skills such as navigating the decision-making process, prioritization, and collaboration. I also wanted the game to take on a civic-minded theme. Therefore, each of the players have “mission lists” to accomplish their different goals. All of the missions are ideas for projects that the girls could implement in their communities to improve their neighbors’ lives. For example, one project is encouraging neighbors to recycle and includes tasks like distributing recycling bins, beautifying the park, and giving a speech about recycling at the town council meeting. Another project is to help ensure the roads are safe in the town. Players with this goal have to lobby the mayor for safer speeding limits, help create bike lanes for bicyclists, and hold a seatbelt safety presentation at the community center. Ultimately, the goal of the game is to equip players with important leadership skills and to empower women to be effective leaders in their communities and schools!

3. Personal Journey: What’s the story behind why you decided to start this project?

I was inspired to create EmpowHER after learning about the staggering figures related to women in positions of leadership. It's truly disheartening to see such a disparity between men and women in leadership roles. Something needs to be done to ensure women's voices are being heard! I also remember being called a lot of things in school when I was younger: "bossy," "abrasive," "intimidating," "overbearing." When I heard these words, I would shy away from the responsibilities of leadership. We need to flip the script on these insults and transform them into something positive. Instead of being "bossy," girls should be thought of as "assertive!" Rather than being called "overbearing," girls should be called "passionate!" There is absolutely nothing wrong with being a leader, so we shouldn’t shame girls for showing initiative or scare girls away from potential leadership opportunities!

4. Selfie Elevator Pitch: Include 1-minute video that answers the following “I am stepping up to make change because...”

5. Example: Please walk us through a specific example of what happens when a person or group gets involved with your project.

Overall, the game takes about 30-45 minutes to play, which is perfect for a class period since there is time for an introduction, gameplay, and then a debrief afterwards where we discuss takeaways and important things they’ve learned. In order to test my prototype for the game, I visited a local middle school and was permitted to take a few girls out of class each period to try out the tool I created to help teach girls how to be leaders. I know middle school students love games, so I figured a board game would be right up their alley. That hunch turned out to be right, as all of the participants reported that they really liked the game and enjoyed playing it. They also reflected that they learned more about making decisions and thinking ahead. Ultimately, I accomplished my goal because all of the participants left with a smile and a newfound interest in leadership. Success!

6. The X Factor: What is different about your project compared to other programs or solutions already out there?

What's unique about EmpowHER is our approach to leadership education. Usually, with workshops or presentations designed to teach leadership, students get bored and aren't very engaged in the lesson. However, if you make leadership education an enjoyable experience, students will be motivated to learn and will absorb the information more effectively since they're actively engaged in the learning process. The gamification of leadership education and the creation of mobile, immersive experiences are what EmpowHER is all about! We aim to combine play & education to end the leadership crisis!

7. Impact: How has your project made a difference so far?

Thus far, EmpowHER has reached about 20 middle school aged girls in my local community of Manassas, Virginia and we've only just started our prototyping phase! Once we get a professional model of the board game made, I'd love to visit schools, girl scout troops, athletic teams, clubs, and more to teach them all about the importance of empowering more young women to lead! One young girl in particular named Lilly was very inspired by the game and ended up initiating her own leadership project at her middle school to help her disabled peers. I was so proud that my game taught her how to be a more effective leader and that it empowered her to make a difference in her community!

8. What’s Next: What are your ideas for taking your project to the next level?

The next step for EmpowHER would be to get professional models of our board game created. I'd love to team up with the cooperative board game company, Peaceful Kingdom to make our dreams a reality! Partnering with Peaceful Kingdom would allow us to not only reach consumers via online sales, but also to get the product in stores all over the country! My goal is to provide free editions of the board game to female-focused organizations. In addition, I aim to sell my board game to private consumers. A portion of the proceeds would go to the creation of a scholarship fund recognizing young female leaders. Therefore, my project is two-fold: effective leadership education, but also recognition for young female leaders already paving the way!

9. Which of the following types of expertise would be most useful for you?

  • Project Plan & Strategy

10. Finances: If applicable, have you mobilized any of the following resources so far?

  • Friend support
  • Family support

Help Us Support Diversity! Part 2 [optional] Do you identify as part of any of the following underrepresented communities?

  • Low-income community
  • LGBTQ community

How did you hear about this challenge?

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Join the conversation:

Photo of Sarah Holcomb

Hey Taylor! Thanks for sharing your story and idea — the gender gap is a huge issue, and you came up with such a fun, inventive solution! I wonder how you might be able to go beyond the game to create a path to action in real life? Perhaps the game could be part of a larger strategy — like a leadership club that hosts game nights and mobilizes for mission-based projects. You might be interested in a project from one of last year’s T-Mobile Changemaker Challenge winners, DualSchool, which helps students launch passion projects:https://network.changemakers.com/challenge/tmochangemaker2018/changemaker100/dual-school. Keep up the good work!

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