Bringing the generations together

workingmums.co.uk talks to Molly Dawson, trustee of the Young Women’s Trust, about the challenges facing younger women and how women of all ages can help each other.

Headshot of Molly Dawson

 

 There’s a lot of division in the world today, including when it comes to age. But when united, young and old can really help each other. Molly Dawson has seen that in action through the small organisation she used to direct, Muslim Women Connect, and in her current work as a trustee for the Young Women’s Trust.

Her role as a trustee – which she does on a part-time, voluntary basis – came about as a result of a training programme Molly went on which aimed to diversity the trustee pool. She spent a year shadowing a board and was assigned a mentor. She says it gave her confidence to apply for a proper trustee role and a huge opportunity to learn. Young Women’s Trust, which works with women aged 18 to 30, was looking to have some young female trustees on their board  and Molly saw their advertisement. She was interviewed by an age-diverse panel and felt the Trust was an organisation that was really walking the talk.

Molly felt her shadowing experience had prepared her well for the role of trustee and it helped that there was another young woman on the board. She says it could be quite intimidating otherwise to be surrounded by CEOs and people with lots of experience as a young woman. “Everyone was really lovely and encouraging,” she says. The Trust already had an advisory panel comprised of young women and the board works with them. Molly says the whole experience has stretched her and made her more confident about speaking up.

One of the challenges she faced was that she had only ever worked remotely and the board meetings were in person. “I’m a fairly introverted person and it felt a lot easier clicking a button and raising my hand than being in a room with big personalities and opinions and having to find a gap in the conversation to put my point across,” she says.

Young women

Molly is involved in particular in discussions about the Trust’s strategy and planning, its equality, diversity and inclusion [EDI] work and fundraising efforts. In her day job as a researcher at the charity UK Youth she is a passionate advocate of peer-led research – which involves a collaborative approach between researchers and the subjects of their research and means the issues that matter to the latter get heard. She is also part of the EDI working group as well as being the co-founder of the Young Staff Forum. She says there is lots of crossover with the trustee position which is valuable in both roles. 

She feels young women often represent “a broken rung” on the career ladder to progression and that it is important to support them from the beginning of their career, for instance, through access to mentorship and advocates. “The degree of discrimination they are facing is pretty shocking,” she says. That includes the assumption that they will go off and have children. Molly is therefore very happy to be part of one of the many organisations which are trying to do something about it and to open doors to young women.

She says she learned a lot about women helping other women at Muslim Women Connect, a small organisation which she co-directed. It had a mentoring programme, bringing together older and younger women across multiple sectors and helping mentees to win promotions and pay rises or simply encouraging them to keep going.

She says hearing the stories of so many young Muslim women means she brings that perspective and voice to her work with the Young Women’s Trust. “It was a beautiful community generally, a space to be really honest about workplace experiences and the specific challenges Muslim women face and to be championed by older women.  The mentees were equally brilliant. It was a very inspiring space. It cemented for me the power of women coming together to support each other,” says Molly.



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