What are you leading?
We lead The Girls Network, a one-on-one mentoring program that pairs 14- to 19-year-old girls with professional women from seven regions across England. The students and mentors meet at least once per month for at least one hour. There are also workshops for the girls—either skill based, career based, or focused on self-development. There are networking events for the students and mentors. And at the end of one year, the students become ambassadors so they can share the experience and hopefully become mentors themselves someday. Our mentors come from a range of careers and backgrounds, but we try to focus on fields where women are underrepresented. We have mentors who work for tech companies, construction firms, engineering firms, and the government.
Charly: What I’ve found sometimes to be the most powerful piece for our girls is the sense that someone is choosing to spend time with them. This isn’t the person who gave birth to them, or is paid to spend time with them, but someone who believes enough in them that she turns up every time to support who the student is and who she wants to be.
How did your experiences as a fellow inspire or prepare you for what you’re doing now?
Charly: I taught geography at a northwest London high school, known for its rigor and high expectations, that serves mostly students from lower-income communities. Mystudents all dreamed of high-powered careers, but when I pushed them to talk about how they’d get there, I noticed girls’ plans in particular fell short. There was absolutely no belief that these girls—who were perfectly capable of doing the cool things they said they wanted to do—would actually do those things. Becca recognized the same lack of confidence among her female students and this is what inspired us to launch The Girls Network.
In 2017, we matched 1,000 young women from disadvantaged communities throughout England with mentors, and we're aiming to match 2,000 per year by 2020.