Being an ally and not realising: the journey to allyship.

 by Ben Hobbis @MrBHobbis

I think I’ve always been an ally. But I don’t think I realised this until this academic year. 

 So, what is an ally? An ally is any person that actively promotes and aspires to advance the culture of inclusion through intentional, positive and conscious efforts that benefit people as a whole (Atcheson, 2018). It is important to remember gender equality is a matter that affects us all and reducing gender inequality is something that we all need to work on. Men can do this by being an ally.

I started teacher training in 2018, after four years in a previous career. Most of the teams I had worked in were predominantly female. Most managers I had were female. Most of the customers I had interacted with were female. As a line manager myself I supported colleagues through relationship breakups, domestic abuse, miscarriage and juggling single parenting with work. I tried to understand life events I could never fully understand. This made me appreciate my female colleagues more and the issues they face that I may never face. But I still didn’t know I was an ally.

 When I started my journey into education, #WomenEd was brought to my attention. If I was totally honest, I saw the value of the organisation, however I didn’t truly understand how deep the issue of gender inequality was in our educational workforce.

So, I believe the first step to becoming an ally is understanding the problem. You can acknowledge and be aware of the problem, but if you don’t fully understand the issue then can you be a true ally?

Read the 10% Braver book, read Gender Pay Gap reports of educational organisations (such as multi-academy trusts) and read some of the blogs from the global #WomenEd community. Watch the #WomenEd events on Youtube and hear these stories firsthand.

When I did this I realised how big the issue is and that I needed to support eradicating the inequality.

As educators we have great autonomy to shape the education and experiences of the children we serve. So as an ally do you celebrate gender equality within your school? When teaching about significant individuals in history are women studied? Do your students study a diverse range of women? Do you celebrate the achievements of modern-day women both inside and outside of your school? Maybe when applying for a new job (I include myself in this as I search for my first teaching position next year), you could look at the school’s curriculum on their website to see if this is the case? Is equality and equity key elements of the school’s ethos?

Becoming an ally doesn’t have to be hard. There are lots of grassroots communities within education you can join. WomenEd isn’t just for women; for example, campaigning about flexible working will benefit us all. You don’t have to be a woman to support the equality of women. Together we can make an impact for the benefit of all. Together we are stronger!

 References

 Atcheson, S. (2018) Allyship - The Key to Unlocking the Power of Diversity. Available at: https://www.forbes.com/sites/shereeatcheson/2018/11/30/allyship-the-key-to-unlocking-the-power-of-diversity/#491963ff49c6 [Accessed: 14 August 2020].

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