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December 10th 2022

Girls' Futures report: GDST

To celebrate our 150th anniversary, the Girls’ Day School Trust commissioned a report reflecting on 150 years of girls’ education and exploring the challenges and opportunities facing girls and women today. The research, conducted with YouthSight, took insights and data from a nationally representative sample of young people, equality and education experts and research specialists. Quantitative and qualitative data explored the trends driving girls’ views, mindsets and perspectives when thinking about their futures. 

GDST CEO Cheryl Giovanonni explains the motivation behind the report: “It might be tempting to think that we have achieved equality in education: to assume that, because girls tend to do better than boys in exams, that means the job is done. But a quick look at today’s workplace shows that the fight to achieve gender equality is far from over. Even in 2022, more women are shouldering the burden of care for both children and parents; we have a gender pay gap which, at its current rate, will take 168 years to close, and there are fewer female CEOs of the UK’s FTSE 100 companies now than there were three years ago.” 

You can access the full report here – it is a powerful and insightful read. Some of the highlights: 

  • A quarter (39%) of 18-year-old girls feel negative about their futures; double the 20% who feel this at age 14 
  • Girls aged 9-18 are twice as likely to say they want to do a job they enjoy rather than be rich 
  • While girls are generally confident they can overcome the main problems in life, a quarter (26%) feel like they are excluded from certain pathways because of their gender 
  • 70% want their school to build their financial skills – and experts agree this is crucial for women to truly change the world 
  • Only 6% get their news from newspapers – compared to 54% obtaining it through social media 

A startling finding was that while 42% of girls want to take on leadership roles, when asked to rank their career ambitions, ‘being a leader’ ranked as the lowest priority out of a list of 17 attributes. Researchers concluded that girls aspire to a type of leadership where measures of success are multidimensional and not necessarily reliant on traditional measures such as salary, prestige or power. Interviewees explained that girls at school today do not necessarily see those currently in positions of power as role models, citing values including honesty, integrity and resilience as qualities they believe leaders should possess. 

Just under half of girls said that they felt prepared for the future (49%), with 47% feeling unprepared – and while 24% of 9 year olds say school prepares them for the world, just 2% of 18 year olds agree. At Blackheath High School, we are tackling this by introducing girls to as many skillsets as possible – crucial ‘soft skills’ like communication and teamwork, but also ‘hard skills’ such as understanding finances, how to generate an income and preparing for a wide range of careers options.  

Alumnae are a critical part of improving our girls’ education – by championing the career aspirations of women, demonstrating real life experience and skills, and acting as role models for women in leadership, you really can support the next generation of young people to shape the workplace and wider society. We have a number of opportunities available – from our hugely popular Wollstonecraft Speaker Series, to mentoring, coaching, careers events, and our biannual Women In Leadership Conference. For more information and to put yourself forward to support Blackheath High students, please contact us at and let us know how you would like to get involved. 


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