The Girls' Network empowers teenage girls from the least advantaged communities by connecting them with a professional female mentor and a network of role models
The Girls' Network draws on female role models to ensure bright futures are not subject to background, gender or parental income. Launched in 2013 by two secondary school teachers who witnessed the barriers faced by girls in their classrooms in London, the project has spread across the UK. From a one-to-one mentoring scheme for 30 girls in 2013, The Girls' Network is now working with over 1,200 girls per year across London, Greater Manchester, West Midlands, Liverpool, Newcastle, Portsmouth and Brighton. This expansion has been made possible with the help of National Lottery funding in 2016.
Only 33% of girls spoken to in 2014 felt positively about themselves and their futures. At 16, half of girls from the poorest homes receive no GCSE passes above Grade D. The Girls' Network programme is underpinned by research showing that conversations and personal relationships can have a big impact on challenging stereotypes and expectations.
Charly Young and Becca Dean decided to act on the data by setting up a scheme where mentors with experience of the workplace meet regularly with the girls over a year, exploring career opportunities, developing their skills and providing them with support to achieve their goals through education and beyond.
In 2017 all of the girls grew their network of professional women, accessed via their mentors, with the vast majority of participants also reporting increased resilience and greater communication skills.