The Girls Network Partnership
Almost a quarter of the way through 2022, as the world starts to slowly adjust back to ‘normal’, parents, carers and educators across the country are witnessing our young girls battling a pandemic of a different kind.
The Young Women’s Trust reported in 2020 that three million young women are worried about their mental health, a number that is rising at alarming rates year on year, with the Fawcett Society sharing in their 2020 Report on Gender Stereotypes that ‘1 in 5 fourteen-year-old girls are self-harming.” Their 2021 report found that 7 out of 10 younger women affected by gender stereotypes said that their career choices were restricted.
The Girls Network, founded by two secondary school teachers in 2013, is a one-to-one mentoring initiative designed to help girls across the UK overcome barriers such as gender stereotyping, societal pressure and a lack of professional female role models in their networks.
In 2021, Encirc proudly partnered with The Girls Network, to provide an initial cohort of 7 mentors for girls based in Merseyside, from a variety of backgrounds and departments.
Erin Miller, Batch and Furnace Manager, who became a mentor due to her own experience in high school, has reached the half-way point of the year-long program.
“After attending an all-girls high school, I realised that both opportunities and career aspirations, particularly those in male-dominated industries, were limited and seemed non-accessible to women. There was a lack of professional role models presented, other than the more stereotypical job roles such as teachers and staff nurses. Whilst there isn’t anything wrong with these jobs, it felt as though we were being placed in a box of what we could do as women. Despite this, I have been able to find my way in various male-dominated industries. This made me want to ensure that the upcoming generation feel empowered and inspired to think big for their futures and recognise their potential. I hope I can be that positive influence that encourages them to do so.”
Erin’s day to day work involves managing two container furnaces, the largest in the world, turning raw materials into glass bottles and jars for the food and beverage industry. She has a master’s in Chemistry but is quick to point out to her mentee that there are many jobs in the industry that don’t require degree-level education if that’s not for her, including a range of Ignite apprenticeships.
“When I think back to being 16, I didn’t possess so many of my mentee’s great qualities. She’s extremely ambitious and has a very clear vision when it comes to her future career. Though she wouldn’t describe herself as confident, she’s bold when it comes to discussing her aspirations. She’s punctual and organised, two qualities I am improving in myself through mentoring her! For anyone thinking of mentoring, I’d say do it! It’s been a very rewarding experience for me so far. There’s a requirement of one monthly session with your mentee, which you need to coordinate and plan ideas for, and the small changes I’ve seen my efforts having on my mentee make the time commitments so worthwhile.”
Carla Pearce is the network manager for the first cohort of Encirc mentors. She offers support for each mentor, keeps track of their post-session mentor logs, and hosts catch up calls throughout the program. Carla champions The Girls Network in everything she does, and shared, “Thanks to our mentors, our mentees benefit from their experience, their guidance and most of all, the knowledge that they have an adult in their corner.”
If you’re interested in a career with Encirc that breaks the gender mould you can register your interest here: www.encirc360.com/careers/