What if no one in your life had a successful career? Been to university? Lived away from family or left the town they were born?

More than half of young Australian women outside of capital cities say they’ll need to make their career choices without support, while almost a third don’t have access to guidance or mentoring, according to research1 by Coca-Cola Australia and long term community partner, Beacon Foundation.

Blacktown Girls High School student Oana Joya knows first-hand how limited options can shape a life. Her dad wanted to be a painter.

“My dad is so creative. He used to enter painting competitions, paint murals in our town,” Oana said.

“But where he lived in the Philippines, it was hard to get by. Women in our village were mothers or helped in a family business. The options were limited,” she adds.

So when one of Oana’s teachers suggested she get involved in an online mentoring program, Oana jumped at the chance.

The MyRoad program pairs students with mentors online for two hour sessions which take place inside the classroom.

Truth in numbers

Like many young women, Oana otherwise has little access to professional role models to help prepare her for geographical, cultural and gender-related challenges that she will inevitably face when planning her future.

The recent MyRoad Careers Survey showed that two in five2 teens are worried about whether they can handle the challenges associated with having a career as a woman.

One in five3 were concerned they would not be hired for a job that a boy could easily get.

Empowerment is key

To expand Coca-Cola’s global 5by20 initiative to Australia, Coca-Cola Australia and Beacon Foundation partnered in 2016 to launch MyRoad – the country’s first online mentoring program that connects young women anywhere in the country with industry role-models across a variety of professional sectors.

Oana Joya (far right) “Having and being a mentor means you can help others while they help you. The communication exchange of views helps you both grow and prepare for life after high school.”

“Support for gender equality is part of the fabric of our organisation – locally and globally. Our global commitment to economically enable five million women by 2020 is one example of how the business has prioritised the need to give women the tools for success,” said Christine Black, Coca-Cola Australia’s Public Affairs Director and MyRoad mentor.

“Our support for MyRoad not only helps us toward our 2020 goal, but also helps us connect with those in more remote areas who need it most,” said Christine.

Oana is one of almost 2,000 young women who’ve been through the MyRoad program gaining access to 220 industry mentors from more than 100 companies.

“Having a mentor was amazing. The communication exchange of views helps you grow and prepare for life after high school,” said Oana.

“Since then I’ve been helping some of the students here at school to explore their options. I even feel like a mentor myself now,” she added.

“The best advice from MyRoad I remember is that it doesn’t matter if you don’t know right now what you want to do. We can be open-minded, we can adjust our goals as we go. I hope every girl around the world has a chance to learn this,” she said.

Scott Harris, CEO of Beacon Foundation says being a mentor can be just as gratifying as being the mentee, and encourages professionals across the country to get involved in MyRoad.

“MyRoad provides an accessible online vehicle for those wanting to share their own experiences with young people who may need a bit of inspiration or guidance. And the experience is incredible rewarding,” he said.

“MyRoad lifts aspirations and reassures young women that the world is in fact their oyster,” said Harris.

HOW TO JOIN

The MyRoad program pairs students with mentors via Zoom technology, meaning mentors don’t even need to leave their desks. The two-hour sessions are run within the classroom and contribute to the high-school curriculum.

Register via the Beacon website: https://ebeacon.net.au/myroad

You can download a copy of the MyRoad Careers Survey here.

 

1) MyRoad Careers Survey: Gender Equality conducted by CoreData on behalf of Coca-Cola Australia and MyRoad. (In field for 10 days from 13.11.17 - 23.11.17. Representative sample size: Australian females (N= 1,000) in-school (n = 500, 15-19 years) and out of school (n = 500, 18 years +).

2) 40.7% of female high-schoolers in years 10-12 don't know if they will be able to deal with the challenges of having a career, as a woman.

3) 20.2% of female high-schoolers in years 10-12 don't know whether they could get a job that boys could easily get.