Leigh Ingham on young women, school and confidence: the problems and solutions, in their words (a late addition to the program). This session is a report on the impact of programs run by a group called Fearless Futures.
We begin with a depressing list of statistics about the gender gap, from Rachel of Fearless Futures. Fearless Futures is aimed at tackling these inequalities as well as a wide variety of others, acknowledging intersectionality. They work with schools to try to do this. Leigh, giving the presentation, came in as an external researcher to look at the quality of Fearless Futures’ work.
The participants all said that participating in the program helped to improve their academic self esteem. They were almost all BME; a majority went on to study STEM subjects at high performing universities. They talked through episodes of discrimination they had experienced and also how to tackle discrimination, which helped them to be confident enough to aim high.
It also helped their personal self esteem, particularly through the ‘I am special because…’ activity. Participants said that it helped them to recognise their qualities and what they could achieve.
The importance of all-girls sessions. It provides a safe space that made it possible for them to be very open and avoid being shut down. It created trust among the members, allowing them to feel supported and solidarity. One, who didn’t speak in school before the program, went on to successfully lobby for more diversity in the A-level Music spec, speaking on Channel 4.
It gave the girls the ability to critically analyse the world and recognise/tackle inequalities, whilst giving them the confidence and tools to change society.
Fearless Futures are running a conference in November called the Gender Assembly. Sounds like it would be worth a look.