5 confidence-boosting tips for girls from Edwina Dunn, Founder of The Female Lead

by The Bonniemob on March 04, 2019

5 confidence-boosting tips for girls based on the women who shape our world today from Edwina Dunn, Founder of The Female Lead.

Such a lovely afternoon with my girl!

Last year, I took my daughter Alice to The Sunday Times event ‘How to Raise a Female Leader’.

It was the most brilliant and inspiring event in The Times offices overlooking the Shard in London'. Hosted by editor-in-chief Lorraine Candy discussed the topic: ‘how to motivate and equip young girls to be the much needed leaders of tomorrow’. Guests included founder of The Female Lead Edwina Dunn, social entrepreneur Nell Merlino, genetics professor Nazneen Rahman, Dame Helena Morrissey  author of ' A Good Time to be a Girl," and CEO of Girlguiding, Julie Bentley.

Alice was so inspired by Edwina Dunn’s campaign, The Female Lead, We bought the book and Alice has been obsessed by it ever since! Edwina is a data entrepreneur, who has spent her career studying people’s stories and motivations. No stranger to being a woman in a male-dominated industry, she set up non-profit organisation The Female Lead to make women’s stories more visible and offer alternative role models to those ever-present in popular culture. The project highlights the breadth of female achievement in order to offer inspiration for future generations.

As part of the project, Edwina has published a book featuring portraits by Brigitte Lacombe of amazing women – including politicians and artists, journalists and teachers, engineers and campaigners, fire fighters and film stars. 18,000 copies of The Female Lead book and teaching resources are being sent to schools for free.

With International Women’s Day coming up on March 8th, I asked Edwina for her top 5 confidence boosting tips for young girls. Read her brilliant advice (with your daughter!) below…

Lorraine Candy & Edwina Dunn of The Female Lead

Left: Lorraine Candy
Right: Edwina Dunn

Did you know that young women who follow two or more female role models on social media are three times more likely to use the word ‘aspire’ and four times more likely to say ‘feminist’? Or that women in their 20s who follow two or more female role models online are 16 times more likely to use the word ‘director’ in their profile and six times more likely to say ‘campaigner’?

This research, based on today’s big data science*, clearly proves the value of female role models when it comes to increasing confidence in girls and young women.

It’s this that continues to inspire me to showcase living, diverse role models and to launch The Female Lead book, packed with interviews and portraits of 60 inspiring women of different ages, nationalities and professions.

Based on the interviews of these 60 leading women, I realised that there were key themes that came up again and again in their personal and professional stories. We hope these can be used to inspire girls and women to be more confident and to build their own definition of success.

1. Feed your passions
From dance to fashion, politics to sport, all of the women interviewed spoke about how important their passions have been to them – helping to guide their life choices. You may not know exactly what job you want to have in the future, but by focusing on what you love, you will learn, grow and have fun too! 

2. Stay curious
All of the women were curious about the world around them. They wanted to expand their horizons, and to learn and engage with different people and places, long after leaving school. Many suggested that although it might feel scary the first time you step beyond your comfort zone, try speaking to someone outside your friendship group, experiment with a new activity or hobby, or taste food you’ve never had before. Every new experience will add a layer of confidence and soon you’ll be eager to tackle (and enjoy) the next challenge!

3. Dare to be different
Many spoke of how they learned to embrace the things about themselves that were different to everyone else, how they struggled with exams or were bullied by their classmates. Those apparent ‘weaknesses’ ultimately became strengths. Standing out from the crowd – like poppies in a field - might feel uncomfortable at first, but, by accepting yourself as you truly are, you become stronger and succeed.

4. Ask for help
Contrary to popular belief, asking for help is a sign of strength, rather than of weakness. If you have a problem or a concern, don’t be afraid or embarrassed to talk to someone you trust, whether that’s a family member, a friend or a teacher. Our Female Leads said that it was their families, friends and mentors that helped to give them the confidence to succeed (with their mums most acknowledged!) 

5. Find strength in setbacks
Not everything has to be done perfectly; in fact, if you wait for something to be perfect, you will never get started! All of the Female Leads in the book had to accept and move on from mistakes in order to achieve their goals. Each failure or obstacle became a learning experience which made them stronger and more focused. If you start to think of your failures as opportunities to learn and grow, you will immediately become more confident and willing to try new things. Try not to listen to the voice in your head saying I shouldn’t or I can’t!

Confidence boosting tips for girls from The Female Lead

The Female Lead book


By Tracey Samuel ( Founder/Designer The bonnie mob) With huge thanks to Edwina Dunn, founder of The Female Lead