One year of Generation Tribe: What we’ve learned about the importance of empowering women and girls 

Journalists Bex and Charlotte launched Generation Tribe one year ago today (May 4) as a space to share women's career success stories. We wanted to mark the occasion by celebrating our contributors and sharing what we've learned from them.

Generation Tribe
Photo by Priscilla Du Preez on Unsplash

It’s one year to the day since we launched Generation Tribe, and what a year it’s been.

Our mission was to inspire and empower women and girls to be whatever they want to be through the success stories of those who’ve been there and done it.

But we didn’t want those stories to be perfect, filtered and Instagram-friendly. We wanted relatable women telling real stories. The highs, the lows, everything in between. It’s only when you see someone like you doing something, that you believe that you can do it too.

Photo by Katherine Hanlon on Unsplash

In those 366 days since we first launched, we’ve been privileged enough to share the stories of more than 100 women, whether in their own words or through long chats (and many coffees) with us. They’ve been brave in sharing their vulnerable moments and generous in their advice for those wanting to pursue similar careers or businesses.

There are several threads which run through many of these stories and we wanted to share some of these with you.

Believe in yourself

One message dozens of our women have for the next generation is: believe you can do it. It sounds simple but it’s such a powerful message. Belief is the first step towards making something a reality.

Samantha Harman, who became a newspaper editor in her twenties, said: “People will have misconceptions about you, or they might tell you that you ‘can’t’ do something because of where you come from/what you look like/the obstacles you have to overcome.

“I’ve been told I’d never move off the council estate, I was too young to do X job, I can’t do it X way because it’s always been done Y way, and I’ve been mistaken for the junior when I’m the manager (it happens to a lot of young women I know in senior jobs).

“The only person you have to convince that you can do something is yourself. Go for it.”

Alex Phillips, a politician, said: “My advice for anyone who might be considering a career in politics would be: don’t let anyone tell you you’re too young, the wrong colour or gender, not bright enough, or that it’s too difficult.

“We desperately need more diverse representation in politics – so believe in yourself. You can and will do it.”

That brings us nicely to…

The importance of diversity

Another thing we’ve heard time and time again is that we need more diversity in the workplace. Thought diversity is one of the best ways we can make a change for the better in our industries, society and world.

Photo by ThisisEngineering RAEng on Unsplash

Here’s a snippet from a not-yet-published interview with a friend of mine who works in engineering: “It’s about balance. If you have such a male-dominated industry, you can drive not only the wrong answers but the wrong behaviours. It’s not just gender imbalance. We have a saying that describes it – ‘pale, male and stale’, and you end up not finding the best answer because everyone’s thinking the same.”

Carlene Jackson, CEO of tech firm Cloud9 Insight said: “Remember that diversity is strength. Businesses need diversity to thrive, tech businesses in particular. By offering a different perspective, whether it’s through being a woman, an ethnic minority or being neurodiverse like me – I’m dyslexic – you’re helping to build a stronger business.”

The possibilities are endless

Some of the women we’ve interviewed haven’t just stuck to one career path – they’ve had several! People change and find new interests and passions along the way.

Sylvia Best left her career in finance to become a personal trainer and firefighter and said: “A career path isn’t always about the final destination. It can also be about what we do and overcome to get there… I now have two jobs I love, but I’ve learnt to accept that people and situations can change.”

Mariam Crichton, who told us about her career in tech, said the exciting thing about her industry is that new opportunities are always emerging. She said: “Do not worry if you don’t know what job you’re going to do. It might not actually exist right now. You should find something you love, a particular industry, and in that industry, a job role could exist.”

Hope for the future

There’s also real optimism for the future that attitudes in the workplace are finally changing, whether that’s through seeing more women in leadership, flexible working being more readily available and changing attitudes in the 21st century.

Business coach and former lawyer Lulu Minns told me: “I think there’s a real chance to change things and do things differently. It’s scary but it is exciting. And you get a chance to be a real leader in that.”

This is just the tip of the iceberg. We’ve received an abundance of valuable advice and knowledge from the contributions of women across industries, from tech, media, the arts, healthcare, science and many more.

Thank you

A huge thank you to all of those women who’ve contributed to Generation Tribe so far. And thank you to our readers, whether you’re finishing school or college and are wondering what to do next, or if you’ve been working in a certain career for a while and you’re looking for a change. Or maybe you’re not looking to change careers at all, but you’re just curious about what it’s like to run a chocolate factory, for example (we’re all interested in that right?).

We’ll continue to grow our ‘tribe’ and keep sharing inspiring stories with you. Our hope is the more we shout women’s success stories from the rooftops, the more girls will feel they can achieve their dreams and we’ll see the end of the self-confidence crisis many girls face when it comes to their careers.

For those of you who’d like to contribute, please get in touch. Whether you’d like to submit your own story or have a good old natter with us face to face (via Zoom during the pandemic, but hopefully back to coffee shops soon), we’d be thrilled to hear from you.

Generation Tribe co-founders Bex and Charlotte on Zoom, because that’s how we all communicate now…

So that’s it, the first year of Generation Tribe. Here’s to many more…

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