Research.

Disrupting The Feed findings summary

The Female Lead & Dr Terri Apter publish Disrupting The Feed – ground-breaking research into untapped potential of social media to enhance teen aspiration and promote positive mental health.

In 2018, The Female Lead and Psychologist Dr Terri Apter, Fellow Emerita of Newnham College, Cambridge teamed up to explore whether there was a causal or correlative relationship between teen aspiration, mental health and influence of social media. Much current research into teen social media usage has focused on keeping safe online and time-limiting exposure to social channels. This research sought to explore whether teenage girls can be encouraged to use social media to expand, guide or reinforce their interests and aspirations by following more high-achieving women on social media.

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Terri Apter, Ph.D.

psychologist, writer and former Senior Tutor at Newnham College, Cambridge

POSITIVE ROLE MODELS TO FOLLOW

Disrupting The Feed encompassed large-scale data analysis of hundreds of thousands of social media accounts, by data-science company Starcount, alongside a year-long qualitative study in five schools across the UK to explore whether altering the variety and composition of who teen girls follow on social media can positively impact their mental health and their personal aspirations.

We concluded that:

  • A causal relationship exists between following positive female role models on social media and having higher and more focused personal and career aspirations.
  • Offering teens alternative females to follow ‘disrupted’ the homogeneity of what the teens engaged with via social channels thereby focusing them on more inspirational content, related to their personal interests and ambitions. This also resulted in positive action in terms of their passions and aspirations in the offline world.
  • Introducing positive female role models into teen girls ‘follow’ lists prompted more positive interactions with social media overall. Participants chose to alter their social media habits for better mental health including taking planned ‘breaks’ from social media or re-thinking who they followed to remove anyone who they recognised as having a negative impact on their self-esteem.

The Social Media Pledge

The Female Lead have asked influencers across the world to post a ‘Social Media Pledge’ – which draws on Disrupting The Feed to promote healthier and positive social media use.
(To the right is the pledge)

Read more

Transform Your Feed with New and Inspiring People

Take a look at our blog post that includes a list of recommended and inspiring women to follow.

Read more

EDWINA DUNN

Founder of The Female Lead

The Female Lead was founded by Edwina Dunn as a non-profit initiative. Edwina is a data science entrepreneur who has always been fascinated by people’s stories and motivations. As the co-founder of worldwide loyalty programmes like Tesco’s Clubcard, Edwina knows first-hand what it feels like to work in a male-dominated industry, and how women’s lack of confidence so often holds them back.

Edwina created The Female Lead to be a platform that celebrates women’s stories, and showcases the lesser-known successes of women, in order to support and encourage the next generation.

Additional research

In September 2019, The Female Lead launched a free leadership programme to all UK Secondary schools and colleges. ‘The Female Lead Society’ is an exciting platform for young women to meet with the purpose of fostering curiosity, drive and courage in each other.

To education

83% felt more optimistic about their future career

... after completing The Female Lead pilot programme summer 2019.

75% felt more confident putting themselves forward as

... after completing The Female Lead pilot programme summer 2019.

52% felt very confident that they will have a successful career in the future

... after completing The Female Lead pilot programme summer 2019.

63% came across careers they were not previously aware of

... after completing The Female Lead pilot programme summer 2019.

70% built their confidence and aspirations for the future

... after completing The Female Lead pilot programme summer 2019.

Research in the world

“The number of girls interested in STEM across Europe, on average, almost doubles when they have a role model to inspire them.”

(Microsoft)

“The number of girls interested in STEM across Europe, on average, almost doubles when they have a role model to inspire them.”

(Microsoft)