A man’s journey through @WomenEd

by Chris Reddy @@brightleadcoach  Founder of @brightleadersUK

Confession time!

 

When I stumbled across @WomenEd a few years back on Twitter, I did wonder what it was all about. Why do women educators need support over men? It’s worth noting, I was brought up around great women. My grandmothers headed up big, beautiful families and were outstanding role models. My mum is a wonderfully kind, caring and strong retired deputy head teacher.

My best teacher at primary school was Miss Power, @TriciaPower1, and my secondary school Thornleigh, @thornleigh, was riddled with great female teachers. The head of PE (my favourite subject) Mrs Grundy, was an amazing leader and teacher who supported my application to university to study PE teaching. In my first teaching job, I got to work with the brilliant Karen Ames, @HT_HolyFamily, and the fabulous Jannine Mannion (HOD), Katherine Canning and Emma Pinket in the PE department, @HolyFamily_PE.

So my life experience had taught me the value of women.

My sceptism around @WomenEd was because I already valued the role of women in education and society and I presumed that everyone else did too.

My thinking changed as I began to connect and listen to the many voices within this community. I soon realised that there was absolutely a need for @WomenEd. Then the magical Carly Waterma, @621carly, invited me to join her group of coaches to do some ‘flash mob’ coaching at the 2018 WomenEd Unconference. There I met the amazing Naomi Ward, @naomi7444, Tricia Taylor, @TriciaTailored, Felicity King, @resetnotinset, and got to see Patrick Ottley-O'Connor, @ottleyoconnor, again, a #HeForShe legend and role model!

Before the event I was a little nervous - which isn’t like me. It was because I would be walking into a room full of women! There was a feeling of ‘do I belong?’, ‘is it ok being a fella at a WomenEd event?’ Whilst in part, I knew it must be ok as I was invited to be there, I brought my cousin along for ‘back up’. She was applying for university and wanted to join the teaching profession. So I had the perfect answer, should anyone ask me ‘What are you doing here?” - ‘I’m here with my cousin, SHE wants to be a teacher!’

It quickly dawned on me that this feeling of lack of belonging and acceptance is something that many women go through daily, both in society and in education.

Luckily, those feelings of ‘do I belong here?’ were crushed within one minute of signing in. The tremendous Hannah Wilson, @Ethical_Leader, saw me from a distance, smiled and said, ‘you must be Chris?’ She hugged me and thanked me for coming. That small act will stay with me forever. What a way to make someone feel welcome. It was in that moment that I realised the importance of allyship and how I can show up to support Womened and other groups than need it.

Following a great day of learning, I was absolutely sold on the work #WomenEd is doing and the impact of that. I have now taken part in WomenEd events in Sheffield, London and the inaugural WomenEd Northern Ireland, @WomenEdNI, event. My eldest son, Jacob, now 6, has been with me and enjoyed the WomenEd crèche that supports parents wishing to attend. The conversations with him about @WomenEd when travelling have created some great memories.

Jacob2

I have learned from and with so many amazingly inspiring female educators along the way. I cannot thank WomenEd enough for the impact on my personal and professional development. Let’s get Covid out of the way as I now have a 2yr boy gagging for some WomenEd crèche action!  #HeForShe

Being connected to this movement has made me a better dad, husband, leader, teacher, colleague and coach.

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