Gender inequality in the workplace is well documented: less than a quarter of our MPs are women, one in twenty newspaper editors is female and three times as many women as men have lost their job since the 2010 financial crisis. For all the efforts and media attention, the ‘glass ceiling’ cliché still seems to rings true.
The Girls’ Network is an initiative that aims to practically confront this issue. Set up by two trainee teachers, the scheme connects women who have managed to succeed in their respective professions with young girls from disadvantaged backgrounds. Recognising the duplicity of problems that come with being a girl from an economically precarious family, Becca Dean and Charly Young’s organisation wants to raise the ambitions and confidence of their mentees and show them the practical steps required to realise their goals.
As well as working to combat issues such as low self-esteem and job aspirations, they offer constructive work experience and networking opportunities to further the employment chances of the girls they work with. Most people’s adult lives, particularly their careers, are shaped heavily by their success at school. As well as mentors The Girls’ Network also works with head teachers, teachers and students within schools to ensure that girls feel that they are capable of achieving anything they want, and their gender or background does not need to be a disadvantage.
The Girls’ Network has already been extremely successful in engaging with both students and industries, securing partnerships with companies such as PwC and endorsements from organisations aimed at empowering women like the What I See project. In addition to engagement within schools, The Girls’ Network is helped by a lively and regularly updated website. This provides further support for the young girls, with content such as a personal account of a day spent debating at parliament from a mentee. Furthermore, there is a network for mentors, where they can share ideas and personal anecdotes, and support each other to ensure they can provide the most effective service to the girls they are trying to inspire.
You can find links to further information, new projects and also how to become a mentor for The Girls’ Network at their website: www.thegirlsnetwork.org.uk