More than 20 girls from schools across the GDST network were invited to attend the prestigious Annual Reception of the Women of the Future Ambassadors Programme at the Foreign & Commonwealth Office this April.
The programme, led by Pinky Lilani CBE DL, connects its community of influential women with sixth-formers to provide students with mentors and role models, aiming to inspire and engage the next generation of female talent.
The speakers included Dr Jena Meinecke, an astrophysicist from the University of Oxford; Annie Zadie, a professional football coach; and Karen Pierce, Chief Operating Office at the Foreign & Commonwealth Office. All of the speakers, and indeed ambassadors, who attended the networking event later in the evening were inspiring and funny, and gave students the confidence they can do anything they put their mind to – if they are prepared to work hard. It was a great evening celebrating the success of women and motivated the girls to learn more about career opportunities. All the girls who came along were buzzing with inspiration and have expressed how much they enjoyed the event with the intention to make the most of the contacts they made. One sixth-former commented she is now considering a sector she had never even thought of and another noted that this was the kind of advice they couldn't get on any website.
Some of the students shared their experiences of the event:
"I found the Women of the Future event really inspiring and stimulating as it opened my mind to the multitude of jobs available in so many different areas. It really motivated me in showing what the end result of exams and university degrees could be. The women who spoke were all completely loving what they do each day as well as continuously being challenged, which is exactly where I want to be in my career. They emphasised the necessity of hard-work and hustle, particularly as a woman in what is still a very male dominated world. That a passion and desire to work hard for what you believe in as well as maintaining kindness along the way, are the most important keys to success. They filled me not with doom about the minority position of women in so many workplaces, but with a sense that this is so possible to change if we, as women, have the right attitude and spirit to want to change this."
Georgie B from Putney High School, GDST
"On 27th April, four girls from the Sixth Form were lucky enough to attend a conference and networking event at the Foreign & Commonwealth Office. The Women of the Future event is aimed to inspire and engage the next generation of female talent, to ensure the issues of today are not the issues of tomorrow. The girls were joined by over 120 students and heard speeches from the likes of Jules Chappell OBE, Sir Simon McDonald, Pinky Lilani CBE and Dr Jena Meinecke a Junior Research Fellow at the University of Oxford who taught the girls that “a positive attitude solves everything”. The inspiring speeches left the girls in high spirits and ready for the networking that followed. The girls took particular interest in Karen Pierce, a British diplomat who spoke to the girls about her time as an Ambassador to Afghanistan and how the massacres in Rwanda sparked her desire for change. Overall, it was an incredible evening that has only made all four of the girls far more ambitious, and confident that they can follow in the footsteps of the women they met."
Olivia R from Croydon High School, GDST
"The Women of the Future ambassador programme was a wonderful event and I thoroughly enjoyed the evening. I recommend future GDST students to attend as it is a rare occasion where students have the opportunity to network with experts from many different fields of work. I have come away having learned useful networking skills and have noticed an increase in my confidence to try and network when opportunities arise. I just wanted to say thank you to the inspirational speakers of the evening and I extend my thanks to Pinky Lilani and the rest of the team without whom this fantastic event would not have taken place."
Blanche B from Croydon High School, GDST
"Before attending the Women of the Future event I had really limited my options as I had only considered becoming a lawyer. However, during the event we were able to listen to an inspirational speech about diplomatic service. I had never really thought about this but it's perfect for me since I study a foreign language and I am great at making compromises! I am really excited and I fully intend to apply for work experience at the Foreign Commonwealth office next summer!"
Charlotte B from Northwood College, GDST