School summit highlights fathers’ role in inspiring daughters

Over half of teenage girls want their fathers to take a more active role in providing advice about their futures

A survey carried out by the Girls’ Day School Trust (GDST) has shown that 60% of 14-16 year old girls want their fathers to take a more active role in providing inspiration and advice about their futures.

The GDST undertook the survey during the Inspiring Females Summit 2019, which took place on 21 June at Chelsea Football Club. It was the biggest event in its four years of running, with more attendees and a larger, more accessible location.

A first-time session called ‘Inspiring Dads and Daughters’ featured a panel exploring the role that dads play in inspiring their daughters. The survey carried out at the event revealed that fathers come third on the ‘go to’ advice list for young girls, behind mothers and friends.

Kirsty von Malaise, founder of Inspiring Females and headmistress of Norwich High School for Girls, told Independent Education Today: “What really struck everyone who was there was this great sense of warmth and support, which we hadn’t necessarily expected.

What really struck everyone who was there was this great sense of warmth and support, which we hadn’t necessarily expected

“We knew that we’d asked some amazing dads to be part of our panel and we knew that if they wanted to come, then they must be supportive. However, we weren’t expecting the level of warmth.

“It was very palpable in the room and some moving things were said. I’ve spoken to several girls from my school who were at the event and they’ve said it’s opened up a lot of conversations with their dads.”

One theme that emerged was that girls wanted to have more control over their finances in the future and not leave tasks like sorting out the mortgage to men. Malaise said the dads “took that on board” with many promising to “share their knowledge with their daughters”.

Dr Rob Jenkins and Guy Laurence, CEO of Chelsea Football Club, on the ‘Inspiring Dads and Daughters’ panel

The event, which Malaise said was free of charge to “as many as we could make it free for”, was attended by both state and independent school pupils.

She said: “It’s always been crucial at every summit to invite partner schools. The girls in our independent schools are perhaps slightly more used to be brushing shoulders with amazing speakers, for state schools perhaps this happens less often so it’s all the more important that they’re with us.

“We’ve seen first-hand how it can be transformative; the girls themselves use words like ‘life changing’.”

Inspiring Females was created in 2016 by the girls and staff at Norwich High School for Girls, and Malaise explained why her students are passionate about it: “The girls here are extraordinary in the way they will absolutely grab opportunities and make the most of them.

“I don’t think it’s a coincidence that the girls working on this year’s summit also had a team in the Young Enterprise National Competition finals, which hasn’t happened at this school before. They push themselves out of their comfort zones.

“The summit gives them opportunities to be high-profile, chair panels, talk to strangers and network.”

She concludes: “I think the event was a huge success. It was full of inspiration and I know people have gone back into their schools and continued the conversations.”

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