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  • Writer's pictureChloe Lewis

Why Black girls and Black women?


In this month's blog, we explore more about why The Catalyst model is designed to focus specifically on the experiences of Black women and Black girls.

 

I know I can be a confident Black girl in the future. It all starts now.’

- Catalyst Mentee, Cohort 2021-22


These are the words of a mentee who will be starting our programme in September, and we think she perfectly encapsulates what we want to achieve. The Catalyst Collective matches Black women with Black girls for meaningful mentoring relationships. But, we are often asked, why does our programme focus specifically on Black women and girls?


A lack of emphasis on the specific needs of young Black women often leads to grouping students together in a way that masks significant differences in key outcomes. We know that young Black people as a whole experience some disparities compared to young people from other ethnic groups. For example, Black students have the highest university non-completion rates, and are the least likely to be awarded a 1st class or 2:1 degree classification.


Whether our mentees want to go to university, do an apprenticeship or take another path, our programme strives to support their attainment in secondary school and beyond. Mentoring encourages the girls to have high aspirations, and helps them to achieve their goals, step by step.


Even within the demographic of young Black people, Black girls have a considerably different lived experience to Black boys. For example, despite the fact that Black girls are more likely to progress to higher education than Black boys, Black women are half as likely as Black men to become professors.


In educational and professional spaces, Black women are frequently underrepresented. Therefore, there is a significant lack of positive Black female representation in the lives of most Black female school students. In our pilot cohort, 100% of mentees said that it was important to them to have a mentor that they could identify with, and 100% said they were unlikely, or very unlikely to have had a mentor this year without being offered one through The Catalyst Collective.


We recognise the specific experiences of Black women, often facing the ‘double disadvantage’ of racism and sexism. Yet, our mentees are aspirational, with many striving to enter fields where few Black women have gone before. The impact of our mentees having role models that they can identify with is immeasurable. One of our upcoming mentees believes she would really benefit from having a mentor to remind her ‘that being a Black woman going into a male-dominated field isn't impossible.’


This is why we deliver a powerful and tailored intervention to young Black women through our mentoring programme.


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