Today’s girls expect more from the workplace – here’s what needs to change to support them

A new survey of girls aged 9-18 has revealed the dreams and ambitions of young women across the country. On International Day Of The Girl, Stylist takes a closer look at how workplaces need to change to support the next generation. 

From the state of the economy to the ongoing climate crisis, there are plenty of things to feel down about these days. But if there’s one thing that’s guaranteed to make you feel better about the future, it’s the voices of the next generation.

Young women and girls may be entering a world that feels chaotic and unstable to even the most resilient of us, but they’re still confident about the changes they want to see in the world, especially when it comes to the workplace.

That’s according to new research from The Girls’ Day School Trust, which highlights the dreams and ambitions of girls aged 9-18 from state, academy and private schools across the UK. 

The Girls’ Future Report – which was released as part of the organisation’s 150th anniversary – explores the mindset and perspectives of young women on the key issues they face, including the kind of careers and companies they want to work for in the future.   

In particular, the research highlighted how today’s girls are redefining traditional perceptions of leadership by prioritising their wellbeing and happiness over more common ambitions such as wealth and prestige; according to the survey, 83% of girls are passionate about doing a job they enjoy and 66% want to make a difference to society.

And while 42% of the girls surveyed would like to take on a leadership position during their careers, when asked to rank their career ambitions, ‘being a leader’ ranked as the lowest priority out of a list of 17 attributes which included ‘being healthy’, ‘feeling empowered’, ‘being safe’ and ‘having just enough of everything I need’.  

It’s not that today’s girls don’t want to be leaders – instead, they want to shift the definition of a leader away from the aggressive, dominant stereotype that has existed for so long.

So, as we mark International Day Of The Girl today (11 October), it’s important that we keep these priorities in mind. If the pandemic showed us anything, it’s that rapid change is possible – and if companies want to empower the next generation to drive progress, they need to work on giving them the environment they need to thrive.

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