GDST launches new diploma to inspire female entrepreneurs

In the wake of the pandemic, where self-employed women lost around 20% of their income, the GDST is launching a course for sixth formers focusing on the skills needed to start a sustainable business

The Girls’ Day School Trust (GDST) has launched a new course – the Leadership Enterprise Advance Diploma (LEAD) programme ­– to teach its sixth form students about mentorship, entrepreneurship and leadership.

The diploma will provide year 12 students with the skills and support needed to start a sustainable business that makes a difference to society.

LEAD will be provided in partnership with LSE Generate, the entrepreneurial arm of the London School of Economics and Political Sciences. LSE Generate’s Mentorpreneurship programme, which is in partnership with OakNorth, will be a key feature of the course.

The GDST highlighted how the pandemic has presented both opportunities and challenges for entrepreneurs, with research showing that self-employed women lost around 20% of their income during the pandemic, compared to 11% of self-employed men.

In addition, The Alison Rose Review of Female Entrepreneurship found that a key barrier to female entrepreneurs starting or scaling a business is a lack of relatable role models and access to networks, sponsorship and mentorship opportunities.

In learning about the power of mentoring, including being mentored by both LSE Generate and GDST alumnae, our students will have access to specialist insight and targeted business advice, whilst honing transferable employability skills – Cheryl Giovannoni, GDST

LEAD builds on the success of the GDST’s Guided Home Learning Leadership programme, which was introduced when exams were cancelled during the first national lockdown.

The programme will cover topics such as the effectiveness of different leadership models, awareness of varied personality types, overcoming imposter syndrome and building effective teams, as well as topics related to the workplace such as unconscious bias, diversity and inclusion, artificial intelligence and shared parental leave.

Cheryl Giovannoni, chief executive at GDST, said: “An important part of our ethos is to be forward looking, and the past couple of years have demonstrated how important it is for our girls to be resilient and proactive about developing the skills and knowledge they need to cope in any situation.

“The International Monetary Fund’s prediction that the pandemic could roll back 30 years of economic progress for women if action is not taken, coupled with The Prince’s Trust’s finding about the gap between young people’s entrepreneurial ambitions and their action to enter self-employment, highlight the need to actively inspire the next generation of female founders.

“I am pleased that the leadership component of LEAD looks specifically at recognising strengths, developing new skills and learning from mistakes. In learning about the power of mentoring, including being mentored by both LSE Generate and GDST alumnae, our students will have access to specialist insight and targeted business advice, whilst honing transferable employability skills.”

Jacynth Bassett, Sydenham High School alumna and founder of inclusive fashion brand The Bias Cut, will be one of the mentors. In addition to regular mentoring support, students will attend two in-person bootcamp events, where they will hear from speakers and attend creativity workshops.


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