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June 1st, 2012

The Future is Bright

There’s an article  on the BBC website revealing that there is still a massive inequality in the numbers and types of jobs held by men and women in the UK and discussing the potential barriers to women (you can read the article here). A study had found that women suffered far more than men from a “lack of self-belief and confidence” leading to “a cautious approach to career opportunities”. A leadership psychologist suggested, “If a man has got 40% of what it takes to do a job, he knows he’s ready – a woman will wait until she’s pretty perfect and then think, ‘Am I ready for this?’. She also stated that 11 year old boys and girls are fairly matched in their ambitions and that it is during the course of their teenage years that girls reduce their risk-taking and scale down their expectations.

As is stated in the Canaan Project Mission, we are really passionate about supporting all young people to develop aspirations and to see those aspirations come to fruition. This article reminds me of how vital this work is, particularly for our young women, and the incredible opportunity we have as we are working with them at that early stage when their aspirations are still high.

I had a conversation with a 13 year old young woman last week who, despite difficult personal circumstances, has great hopes for her future. She actually feels that women have great strengths in the workplace; they are brilliant multi-taskers and the fact that they are emotional means that they have a good understanding of people and situations and can therefore handle situations better. She believes that she can do anything she wants if she puts her mind to it.

This is not uncommon of the young women I work with. They often talk about wanting to be doctors and lawyers as well as getting married and having families. The challenge for us as their youth workers is to help them find ways of hanging on to this confidence and self-belief and to see their dreams become reality.

Watch this space for some of the ways we are facing this challenge in the coming weeks….!

Fiona