It takes a lot of confidence to be a lone bipartisan voice in Congress. In her 18 years in the U.S. Senate, Olympia Snowe (R-Maine) was famous for crossing party lines to get things done. She had to develop a thick skin in order to withstand her critics—she was even lampooned on Saturday Night Live.
Such experience taught Snowe that being self-assured is an essential part of leadership: “[Being in] public office means putting yourself out there,” she says. And yet, because of a lack of self-esteem, by middle school, girls are 25 percent less likely than boys to say they like taking the lead. “It’s sad because they have so much to achieve, but they don’t feel that way,” Snowe says. “We’ve all gone through it, but can we find a way to help them avoid those feelings?”