Middlesbrough: Raising determined and well-travelled young women

credit: The Guardian

Roseberry Topping, Middlesbrough: The Guardian

Another day, another study claiming that Middlesbrough is the worst place to live as a female.

Originally, the research conducted aimed to shine a light on the inequalities of young women in the UK.

But once again, the stats were angled to give Middlesbrough a battering as it was ranked in the last position for opportunities offered to young women in the town.

The result was decided by five factors; child poverty, life expectancy, teenage pregnancy, GCSE results and numbers Not in Education, Employment or Training (NEET).

National newspaper The Daily Mail managed to track down Boro teenager Molly Ryan and compared her upbringing to that of a girl from Surrey – which was ranked the best place to live for girls and young women.

18-year-old Molly was interviewed following the Plan International research.

But how accurate was the article?

Tside reporter Frankie Ahmed caught up with Molly to ask her if she thought the article painted a true picture of her Middlesbrough upbringing.



Left-Right, Molly Tunn & Molly Ryan: Madagascar Expedition. Credit: Molly Ryan

Left-Right, Molly Tunn & Molly Ryan: Madagascar Expedition. Credit: Molly Ryan

Achieving A*, A, C at A level – Molly’s  impressive results were not included in her Daily Mail profile which included short snippets based around: education, job, plans, home, family, safety and sexual harassment.

Earning £7.70 – higher than the 25 and over minimum wage by 50p.  This factor was left out by the Daily Mail even though she was earning more than the Surrey girl.

Currently Molly is studying for her degree in Journalism at Sheffield University; Teesside was her insurance choice.

However, like most young people across the UK – she wanted to be independent, to move away from home and have the opportunity to meet new people during her time at University.

Molly was mortified to see that she had been tagged with the line in the Daily Mail: ‘One faces daily sexual harassment’  – suggesting that her reasons for moving away from home were to do with constant sexual harassment and concerns for her safety.

She said: “One thing that has been different about Sheffield though is that I have been cat-called so much more than I have ever been in Middlesbrough – clearly Boro and the people in it are not the problem.”

Growing up in Middlesbrough, Molly has never felt hindered or restricted by her hometown, but actually enjoyed growing up here.

Surrounded by a great friendship group, having the facilities and opportunities to succeed.

“I never felt like I couldn’t participate in what I wanted to do because of where I grew up – Middlesbrough has all kinds of clubs for young people offering plenty of opportunities,” She said.

Not only did she achieve excellent results in both school and college, she voluntarily explored her career options across engineering workshops through school.

She decided it wasn’t for her but some of her friends are now in good apprenticeships in the industry.

The opportunities were endless, attending gymnastic and theatre clubs over the years, participating in school productions and events – most recently a World Challenge expedition to Madagascar.

Molly Ryan: World Challenge, Madagascar. Credit: Molly Ryan

Molly Ryan: World Challenge, Madagascar. Credit: Molly Ryan

“This took that drive and determination to raise the money to get there,” She said.

Mayor of Middlesbrough, David Budd, recently told the Gazette that the statistics used against Middlesbrough are dated and unreliable.

“The figures used in this report are from a number of years ago and our success in dealing with them is proven by more recent figures,” he said.

So here is so much more to be positive about in Middlesbrough – for girls in Middlesbrough to be positive about – than the dated data suggests.

Many think that Middlesbrough is some sort of northern, industrial wasteland. As if, it doesn’t have much to offer: forgetting the North Yorkshire moors, our beautiful coastlines, world-class medical centres and excellent university campus.

Not to mention that a multitude of successful females have came out of Middlesbrough: Steph McGovern, Mary Butterwick, Kat Copeland, Jade Jones, Aimee Willmott etc.

To make out as if growing up in Middlesbrough is going to stop women from being successful is ridiculous. It’s hardly fair to make such a harsh statement about such a complex and subjective experience, based on outdated statistics.

For the women of this town, it’s not exactly an empowering statement either. Especially when there are young girls like Molly, doing well with their education, maintaining a well paid job, participating in great activities and opportunities both locally and further afield – while growing up in Middlesbrough.  Clearly not the worst place to be after all.







from Tside