Leighton Park School girls leading the way

Posted on 27th Mar 2024 in School News, Careers guidance, Events

49 girls from Leighton Park School were excited to be representatives at a pioneering careers event for women on Thursday 21st March. The unique networking event, organised by The Female Lead, focussed on the successes of strong women in industries as diverse as fashion and STEM and shared their leadership insights with an exclusively female audience. Leighton Park girls were chosen to attend because Leighton Park is one of ten Female Lead Ambassador Schools. The school’s commitment to building female empowerment is reflected through a fortnightly student-led co-curricular club, ‘The Female Lead Society’.

The careers event showcased five impressive female leaders presenting on both the support and challenges they had faced as women in the context of their inspirational career journeys. This was followed by a fair showcasing careers where women are underrepresented. The enthusiastic audience were delighted to hear from Anne Keast-Butler the Director of GCHQ. They learned about the transferable skills needed to read data and communicate from Amanda Timberg, Director of Education and Social Impact at Google, as well as gaming as a career for Gen Z from Perla Bloom, Global Strategy Lead at EA Entertainment. Leanne Elliott-Young, the Co-Founder at the Institute of Digital Fashion talked about biodegradable dresses for the red carpet. 

Millie (Upper Sixth) concluded: ''The speakers were inspirational, and put a focus on being human, and people with hobbies beyond their career which was really refreshing.''

Five of our Year 9 students were delighted to interview Director of GCHQ, Anne Keast-Butler, with students from Mulberry Girls’ School for BBC Newsround. Alongside BBC Newsround presenter, Ricky Boleto, the girls quizzed Anne on the difficulties of being a female leader in a male-dominated sector, the difficulties she faced in reaching the top and who her own role models are. Anne, who is a Female Lead Ambassador, was promoting STEM subjects to girls in an effort to break the bias in perceptions of women in this important area. She discussed the importance of failure and of open-mindedness, explaining that it is fine to change your mind and career. 

Senior Assistant Head, Tash Coccia, said: “Anne emphasised that girls do not need to be a maths genius to be a spy! It’s important to know what your passions are and what motivates you and not allow other people’s perceptions of what you should be to cloud your vision of yourself.” 

Georgia (Year 9) reflected: “I took away that life won't be handed to you but that when you work hard and enjoy what you do, you can do anything you dream of no matter what anyone says.” 

“The support and turnout was fantastic and we were delighted to see how engaged the students were,” commented Laura Whiteside, The Female Lead.

“It was incredibly inspiring for them and got them fired up for more female lead empowerment!” enthused Tash. 

Kemianna (Lower Sixth) praised the event saying: “I enjoyed being able to see strong women in careers, role models to look up to and how they’ve been able to push themselves in their own individual fields and climb up. It has really inspired me for the future to look for internships and work experience and to research into what I want to do in the future and for work experience, to really explore my post-18 options.”

The stated Mission of The Female Lead is ‘to fuel the confidence of young women and empower them to take the lead in their lives and future careers'. We strive for girls' success and fulfilment, whatever form it may take. The careers-focussed networking event on 21st March was the first of what will be many opportunities to realise this aim, offering access to a network of experts who can offer deep engagement in topical issues including diversity, equity and inclusion in the workplace and jobs of the future.

'The Female Lead Society' at Leighton Park was founded by Senior Assistant Head: Co-Curricular, Tash Coccia, who signed up to The Female Lead’s School Ambassador Network last summer. Eight students in Year 11 to Upper Sixth were trained by The Female Lead during the Autumn Term 2023 and the Society welcomes girls in Year 9 and above. Advocacy, empowerment and informed intellectual debate are cornerstones of the Society who meet at lunchtime, with participants attending in the spirit of girls supporting girls.