Mentoring Teenage Girls: ‘Watching Them Develop In Confidence Is Amazing’

Becca Dean never expected anything out of the ordinary working as a teacher in an inner-city girls’ school. However, a field trip with her pupils proved to be an eye-opener as they expressed fear and wonder at the sight of women in City suits, lawyers, and engineers. Dean felt the need to do something about it and, along with Charly Young, established the Girls’ Network, a mentoring program for girls aged 14-19 who lack confidence and positive role models. This initiative links hundreds of young people from underprivileged schools to women in different industries who provide practical advice, career guidance, and support in developing leadership and communication skills. In six months since its launch, more than 500 female mentors have volunteered to address the lack of women in influential positions where they are still significantly underrepresented. While several young people’s mentoring programs exist, the Girls’ Network focuses exclusively on young women’s issues, including "massive risk-aversion" in career choices and a lack of self-esteem and belief in their potential to achieve anything. The initiative provides girls with an opportunity to network with successful women and explore their interests while empowering themselves to become competent leaders.

Marian, the owner of a digital and marketing communications company, is one of the mentors of the Girls’ Network. The network is an initiative that aims to help young girls from disadvantaged backgrounds achieve their career aspirations. Marian’s role in the program is to listen to young women’s dreams and guide them towards making informed decisions.

Maria is one of the girls who have benefited from the program. Her mentor, a social worker and counselor, helped her consider her career options, and even provided help in editing her personal statement for her university application. Like many others, Maria had issues that held her back from pursuing her dreams such as finances, religion, or cultural factors.

April is another teenager who benefits from the program. Although she aspires to be a singer, her family would prefer her to take up a "safe" career such as teaching. April finds the mentoring program invaluable as she can talk to someone objective who is not involved in her school or home life.

The Girls’ Network has the potential to fill the gap left by previous higher education initiatives such as Aim Higher and Connexions service. These initiatives provided career advice and guidance to young people, but they were discontinued by the Coalition government.

Dean and Young launched the program to help at least 50 young women in two schools during the pilot phase of the program. The program’s success has led to inquiries from individuals asking to set up similar programs in other regions. Unfortunately, a lack of funding is delaying the program’s expansion to other areas of the UK.

The Girls’ Network has relied on voluntary donations via their homemade website and is actively applying for funding from various charities and funding bodies. Dean and Young hope to secure a sustainable source of income, which will allow them to help more young women achieve their career aspirations. They believe that empowering young women with confidence and opening their eyes to the possibilities that lie ahead is the key to success.


  • kaydenmarsh

    I am Kayden Marsh, 34yo educational blogger and school teacher. I am a mother of two young children, and I love spending time with them and learning new things. I also enjoy writing about education and children's issues, and I hope to continue doing so for the rest of my life.

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