Data and research have always been at the heart of The Female Lead. Since launch, we have used Starcount for big social media data analysis and we have worked in partnership with Cambridge University for in-depth qualitative research.

Our research and analysis is a vital part of our mission to create real change, by bringing together women' voices and making recommendations to businesses and government. 

In 2020 The Female Lead is undertaking its most ambitious and ground-breaking research to date, to explore why, after decades of legislation, gender equality in education, control over fertility and massive shifts in gender norms, women have still not achieved equal pay and progression in the workplace. 

Our goal is to deepen our understanding of the enablers - in terms of policies, organisational culture, and personal networks - that facilitate women’s careers. We also want to explore whether women continue to feel pressure from conflicting demands. Our results will help formulate action-oriented solutions to continue to improve workplace gender equality


In collaboration with our research partners, we are analysing women’s working lives, touching on the different dimensions of work, money, relationships, society and self that all, in varying degrees, contribute to the persistence of women’s under-representation in senior positions in the workplace. Our research will involve three different methods of exploration - quantitative, qualitative and large scale social media data analysis.


In 2020 The Female Lead will launch a new quantitative survey of women’s lives using cutting-edge neuroscience techniques to reveal what makes women feel most fulfilled. 

The questionnaire will explore women’s current level of satisfaction in the key areas of self, work, relationships, money and society and the results will allow us all to understand what factors most contribute to female fulfilment  with the aim to find what businesses and government could do to measurably improve womens lives. The survey will be free for all women to take part in on this website and by participating they will discover more about themselves while also contributing to improving the lives of all women.


The complex process women engage in as they form career-shaping decisions was once a field of active research but, in 2020, how women’s aspirations are modified by their experience, is surprisingly under-researched.  This omission is due to the assumption that what women want is well known, or obvious.  This lack of deep understanding of women’s decisions and the context in which they are made, is ultimately likely to generate workplace initiatives to promote female progress which are unsuited to their aims.


The qualitative data from The Female Lead will offer privileged insight into what constrains and what enables women’s careers across multiple sectors, roles and industries including the employed, self-employed and entrepreneurs. This work will surface and highlight best practice from across the UK to provide ground-breaking insight into what kind of action is most needed to provide support, protection and stimulus for equality of opportunity and progression for working women today.




As part of our exploration and our weight of evidence, we will access data science company Starcount's database which measures millions of social media users globally and explore the connections and passions of women across the UK (c. 10 million women) to understand the motivations and connections that drive women's thinking and behaviour.


Overall, we amass a huge amount of original thinking and evidence to allow us to design and refine key interventions, as we did for our first focus group research conducted also with Cambridge Psychologist, Dr Terri Apter (see below). 

"This is the year we must focus on evidence-based action, driving change which can improve the positive influence, economic impact and
under-capitalised value of women, right across society."

In 2019 we launched a major new piece of research set to permanently shift the conversation around teens, social media and mental health. Addressing the global worries about the impact of social media on teen wellness, the ground-breaking Disrupting The Feed study explored changing what teens consume on social media, rather than restricting it. Our research revealed many positive outcomes from the introduction of new, diverse female role models into the social media feeds of girls aged 14 to 18 years old.  

A joint research venture between The Female Lead and Psychologist, Dr Terri Apter, Fellow Emerita of Newnham College, Cambridge, the study encompasses large-scale data analysis of hundreds of thousands of social media accounts by Starcount, alongside a year-long qualitative study in five schools across the UK. 

The study concluded that a causal relationship exists between following positive female role models on social media and having higher, focused personal and career aspirations. Offering teens alternative women to follow ‘disrupted’ the homogeneity of their social channels, thereby focusing them on more inspirational content, related to their personal interests and ambitions. As a result, participants chose to alter their social media habits for better mental health, re-thinking who they followed to remove anyone who they recognised as having a negative impact on their self-esteem.