Up to 500 sixth form girls from 30 schools across Northern Ireland will be given the opportunity to take part in a unique programme created to help develop the female leaders of tomorrow.
SistersIN is an eight-month leadership development programme which aims to address the need for gender parity by building pupils’ confidence and broadening their career perspectives. Each pupil is matched with a female mentor from business, education or the public sector.
The class of 2023 involved 188 pupils from 10 schools. Unveiling a report on the impact of the programme in its first year, Peter Dobbin, Principal of Assumption Grammar School and Director of SistersIN, said:
“Year one was about getting the basics in place, piloting the SistersIN Programme across 10 schools and gathering valuable experience and feedback from our partners, mentors and pupils to help us take it to the next level. We've been blown away by the energy, support and enthusiasm of everyone who has been involved.
“Our vision is to make SistersIN available to any girl post-16 level in Northern Ireland – but to do this we need more businesses to get behind the programme with financial support in addition to the backing we have received from amazing mentors from across business, education and public sectors.”
The class of 2024, which begins in September, was launched at an event at Danske Bank, a SistersIN Foundation Partner.
Aisling Press, Managing Director of Personal Banking at Danske Bank and SistersIN board member, said:
“The class of 2023 benefited from exposure to the different careers that exist today, introductions to the world of work and to female leaders who have shared their career journeys and personal leadership stories with them. And as mentors we were absolutely blown away by these girls – the future is definitely bright. The impact on pupils, mentors, businesses, schools and communities in its first year is very clear to see and as a Foundation Partner we’re excited to play our part in helping even more girls to become the leaders of tomorrow.”
As part of the programme, Former President of Ireland Mary McAleese shared a personal address to the pupils. Ten pupils helped organise a celebration event at the ICC Belfast for 800 people, and all the pupils were invited to attend the 25th Anniversary of the Good Friday Agreement at Queen’s University.
Victoria College pupil Helena Moore, one of the participants who spoke at the ICC Belfast and at the launch event, said:
“The relationship I had with my mentor was one of the key elements I took from this programme. She encouraged me to just get involved, not even to hesitate, just grasp every opportunity that came my way.”
93% of participating schools said that their pupils have grown in confidence because of the SistersIN programme. 99% of pupils felt as though the SistersIN programme was a worthwhile investment of time and 93% of pupils who took part said had already applied the leadership skills they learnt.
Among the mentors, 81% said they gained meaningful insights into the future workforce and 71% said they saw an improvement in four or more leadership skills in the pupils they mentored.
Any business who would like to find out more about supporting SistersIN should visit the SistersIN website or email email@example.com