Molly Barker

Ashoka Fellow
Charlotte, United States
Fellow Since 2008
My work: Using physical & emotional training to help girls challenge the status quo and be a part of a healthy society.

Check out this video of Molly's work:


Related TopicsChildren & Youth, Human Rights & Equality, Gender equity


This profile was prepared when Molly Barker was elected to the Ashoka Fellowship in 2008.
The New Idea
Young girls from all socioeconomic groups and cultures encounter strong pressure to conform to social norms. Without the support they need to let their personalities and abilities shine, many retreat to a socially acceptable place that Molly calls the “Girl Box.” Molly coined the term to describe the place that previously happy, confident girls reluctantly go into about the time of fifth grade. The girl who knew all the answers becomes the girl who hides in the back of the class; the girl who could beat the boys at races becomes the girl who feels ashamed of her strong body and legs. Formerly self-assured girls take on a more depressed posture, defer to boys in the classroom, or complain of weight problems where there are none. Molly’s idea is to enable girls to understand these societal influences, and to have the strength, determination to rise above them and eliminate them.

Molly founded Girls on the Run (GOTR) in 1996 with a mission to educate and prepare girls for a lifetime of self-respect and healthy living. Today, GOTR is a grassroots movement that engages 45,000 girls a year, the 3,000 women who work with them in 171 Councils across North America, and the 500,000 individuals engaged in the annual WonderGirl Run series. Starting with this strong foundation, Molly’s idea is to create a social movement that will provide quality, life-changing experiences for girls and women; promote positive, healthy images of girls and women; support the development of healthy, resilient girls; ensure that girls and women have the opportunity to develop and express themselves with joy and authenticity; encourage millions of people to change the systems that constrain girls and women; and enable girls and women to reach their highest potential.
The Problem
The Strategy
The Person

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