WomenEd Blogs

I’ve got a seat for you at the table. I will get you a chair. #SeatAtTheTable

by Kerry Jordan Daus @KerryJordanDaus

The 3rd Annual Unconference of #WomenEd is set to excite, challenge and enthuse us all. I am taking a moment, a space, to reflect on Shirley Chisholm's words and the provocation for our weekend:

"If they don't give you a seat at the table, bring a folding chair".

What does that mean to me?

This is timely, as I come to the end of my first 30 days as CEO of a Multi Academy Trust. This is a senior systems leadership role. This is a big role. This is a role where too few women have a seat at the table. I have got one and, importantly, what am I going to do with it?

For a long while, I was occupying a folding chair. I have been a Trustee at four different MATS and a Chair of a Trust Board. I learnt a lot about myself, about leadership, about finding agency in this space, about getting my voice heard. At times the folding chair was wobbly. At times there wasn't a space at the table for my folding chair. I just squeezed up tight.

In three of these contexts the CEO was a male. I wondered "quietly" if I could have the CEO seat at the table.

So, now I have my "seat"; I am reflecting on how I will live the values which are the moral compass of my leadership. This is not about being right but about doing it right. I come to this leadership role intent on being the change that I see is needed, being #10%Braver and embedding a culture of honesty, openness, and vulnerability. I want to use the gift of leadership, the power of leadership, as activist power, to make our working spaces a place everyone wants to be. I want our MAT to be irresistible for all. I will use my seat at the table to challenge, even if that's uncomfortable.

Brené Brown has provided me with one of my roadmaps for leadership; both daring greatly and the gifts of imperfection.

I grasp nettles.

Not knowing is a strength.

As I try and get comfortable in my new seat (but not too comfortable), I am determined to own my not knowing everything as a sign of my leadership strength. 

I am very confident to ask. In fact, wanting to know is so important. I don't have all the answers. 

My first 100 days is my #ListeningProject. Talking to as many people, children and young people as possible. This is giving everyone a "seat at the table", giving everyone a voice. No one is "just" Anne, the cleaner, "just" John the Teaching Assistant, "just" Sam our Year 3 pupil, or "just" a parent – I am explicitly seeking out those hidden voices.

This week, I had a seat at the table with Year 6 pupils. They joined me, no, I joined them for lunch. I loved hearing them talking about "Irresistible Learning for All", what had made their day "irresistible" AND indeed better if …..

A call out to all my VERITAS MAT: if I haven't given you a seat at the table yet, bring your folding chair. 

Actually, no folding chairs needed, there's always a space for you at the table.

Notice from #WomenEd:

We invite you to comment on our blogs; we are always delighted to hear from you. To do so, scroll to the bottom of this page and send in your comment with your name and email.

Thank you!

Stay Informed

When you subscribe to the blog, we will send you an e-mail when there are new updates on the site so you wouldn't miss them.

Tend and befriend. #SeatAtTheTable
What would you do with your seat at the table? #...


No comments made yet. Be the first to submit a comment
Thursday, 08 June 2023

Connect with us

Follow us via Twitter

Follow us on LinkedIn


Read Our Privacy Policy

Newsletter Subscription


Can you help spread the word about #WomenEd?

Please share to help us connect with women educators across the globe

We use cookies

We use cookies on our website. Some of them are essential for the operation of the site, while others help us to improve this site and the user experience (tracking cookies). You can decide for yourself whether you want to allow cookies or not. Please note that if you reject them, you may not be able to use all the functionalities of the site.