WomenEd Blogs

My first #WomenEd event #IWD2022

by Caitlin Bracken  @CaitTeachesKind  I'll be honest, I did question why I'd sacrificed my Saturday lie-in, as I got on a train at 8.11am on March 12th.  For those thinking 'Surely you'll just have Sunday though?' you'd be wrong, I was up early again for figure skating that morning!  I'm not very good at new things, or rather, I...

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#ChooseToChallenge

by Christalla Jamil @ChristallaJ

This year’s International Women's Day 2021 was marked by a campaign focused on 'challenge'. When we support each other, women accomplish amazing things. For me, once again, this was illustrated on Saturday 6th March when the three regional networks that I am honoured to work with, gave a platform to a community of new voices to share how they #ChoosetoChallenge. I would like to extend my thanks to all three #WomenEd regions: @WomenEdSE, @WomenEdEastern and @WomenEdLondon.

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Is there a glass ceiling in Higher Education?

by Lizana Oberholzer  @LO_EduforAll

Women play a pivotal role as role models to inspire the future generation of female leaders in education, whether it is in schools or in Higher Education. According to Hewitt (2020) and Osho (2018), 56.6% of the university student body is comprised of women. The Higher Education workforce, however, reflects a different picture where 45.3% of the workforce are women, as outlined by the Higher Education Statistics Agency’s (HESA) data. What is interesting to note is that the representation of women in the leadership and management workforce is even lower at 27.5%.

Osho (2018) highlights that apart from the challenges of low female representation in leadership in higher education, there are also concerns regarding BAME female representation, and that 0.5% of UK female professors are Black.  It’s clear that these issues need urgent attention.

Women in HE often face similar challenges to their counterparts in schools. Hughes, as cited in Findings (2013), outlines that HE contexts and working conditions in HE contexts don’t often accommodate the needs of their female workforce, and they often suit men better. Women with young families often struggle to balance their commitments with family life. In addition, it is often perceived that when women go on maternity leave their academic career comes to an end or is on an indefinite pause. In some cases, some university departments, when faced with maternity leave, had to think how to support or accommodate the needs of young female academics for the first time, as they have never had a female colleague to support until very recently. Findings (2013) and Osho (2018) outline how initiatives such as Glass Ceiling and Athena Swan were introduced to shatter the glass ceiling, in the hope that when women are supported and championed they will also provide strong role models for others to follow, and future generations will be able to progress with ease onto the leadership ladder.

Although the data reflects that the workforce in Higher Education represents a larger percentage of female staff vs male staff in some HE contexts, as cited by Hewitt (2020) it cannot be ignored that at times, more needs to be done to support women in order for them to succeed as academics and in leadership positions in HE. Flexible working opportunities, not only to fulfil academic teaching roles, but research and leadership roles, need to be considered to enable women to lead and contribute in a sustainable way to meet the needs of the communities they serve.

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Being 10% Braver: #IAmWriting.

by Vivienne Porritt @ViviennePorritt

We started WomenEd because women's voices on twitter were often silenced, harrassed or our views were not valued. It's one of the reasons we included a mic in our logo. So we encouraged women to tweet and to write blogs to tell our stories and share our lived experience. 

One of the reasons we wrote 10%braver: Inspiring Women to Lead Education was to ensure the voices of our community reached women who are not on twitter. And over 30 voices are included in Being 10% Braver which, joyously, is published this December - you can pre-order and it's a great Christmas present! And we are delighted to share more opportunities for our community to write and to be heard.

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New role, New school, New normal

By Anonymous
 
Biggest challenge? Going from a school knowing more or less everyone’s name, including most students (having been there forever) to feeling rude every other time you talk to someone. I feel like walking around with a badge saying, “Hi, I’m Mrs Taylor and you are? *sorryififorgot”
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Stepping in and Stepping out: maternity leave on Senior Leadership Team

by Madeleine Fresko-Brown    @M_X_F

When I was 8 1/2 months pregnant, I got offered my first SLT position as Assistant Head Teacher (Teaching & Learning). Since then, I have enjoyed 2 maternity leaves - I’m coming to the end of my second one now - and had a successful year and a half of working full time in the position.

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Flexible working isn’t just for mums, but it IS a women’s issue.

by Lindsay Patience, (Flexible Teacher Talent) @mumsyme @FlexTeachTalent


We set up Flexible Teacher Talent because Lucy Rose and I were frustrated by the lack of flexible working options for female leaders in education and we wanted to help stem the flow of female teachers (particularly mums) aged 30-39 from our schools. Our research, campaigning and work with schools have all contributed to a realisation that flexible working isn’t just for mums. The benefits are multifaceted and the desire and reasons for wanting to work flexibility are diverse.

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Happy birthday #WomenEd

by Yamina Bibi @msybibi  #BirthdayCelebration


I amended my talk for the launch of WomenEd Bedfordshire on 4th May 2020 to let me wish #WomenEd a happy birthday. #WomenEd has changed my life. I have noticed my courage growing since #WomenEd community embraced me. You have all helped me to accept myself and provided me with opportunities beyond my expectations.  #WomenEd, you have allowed me to dream again and for this, I am forever grateful!

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What difference has #WomenEd made to me?

by Lizana Oberholzer @LO_EduforAll

It is only a few days before the #WomenEd ITT/NQT/ ECT event, hosted by @WomenEdLondon,and I am keen to reflect back on what difference #WomenEd has made to me personally and beyond.

I joined #WomenEd, when I transitioned to a new role in Higher Education (HE), and a whole new world of learning was about to unfold in front of me. What I thought I knew about education, leadership and my role, was about to be reshaped and reimagined at a rate that I had not expected. I thought I was well prepared, understood my field, and understood HE. However, I soon realised that whatever I knew, will need to be reshaped to help me with the challenges of my new role.

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Reset. Recover. Rebuild.

by Hannah Dalton, @Doddsyinit, and Kiran Mahil, Senior Leaders of schools in London.

With the phased return of pupils already underway in many primary schools, and with secondaries bringing Year 10 and 12 students back shortly, it seems timely to consider what the ‘new normal’ will be in schools. As you are only too aware, there are many matters to consider when planning and preparing the return to school for students and the wider school community.

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The Headteacher in me.

by Christalla Jamil @ChristallaJ

Are you sometimes a headteacher out of work too? I certainly am. Sometimes my husband says, “You’re not at work now darling.” Or my children, who are both adults, chuckle and add, “Oh there she goes again, Mum thinks she is our headteacher!” Yet both these examples are paired with an element of humour. Today, I was hurt, emotional, angry, disappointed, frustrated, powerless and instantly went into headteacher mode. What would I do if this happened at work mode?

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Negotiating your salary

by Anonymous

My experience of negotiating was uncomfortable yet exhilarating. It was nerve racking yet I felt courageous. I was trembling in the inside yet I felt liberated. Without a doubt it was one of the most nerve racking things I have ever done because I did not want to be perceived as difficult. My fear lay in how I was going to be perceived by others. My fear was not in the potential decline or refusal of my negotiation but it was in being seen to be ‘difficult’ ‘proud’ or ‘arrogant.’ I feared that if I asked, my colleagues would not like me anymore.

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Autonomy – Just let me be!

by @BaarNomad

We spend the first part of our lives having little or no say and we accept this because we are raised to think it is the only way. But is this really true? Should being a dependent mean having no autonomy? Should being a child mean you have no choice or voice?

When I was a kid, I was that little rebel, that kid that cherished the invite to participate in the decision making. I didn’t always like being told what to do. And when I felt the rules of our house and family were restricting my independence, I would argue and fight to have my voice heard. I felt that I was far more mature than people perceived me to be. My mum would often remind me that there are other children in the household that have to follow the same rules. I would argue that I am an individual and that certain rules shouldn’t apply to me or make sense to me. Needless to say this did not go down well with my African parents.

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Flexible and part-time working: the benefits

by Raphael Moss @mrrmoss

A conversation I had with the inspirational Vivienne Porritt was the catalyst for me to seek feedback from staff who had benefited from flexible or part-time working.

Over the years, in my privileged position as Headteacher, I have consciously made the effort to try and accommodate requests for flexibility or part-time working. It’s part of the bigger picture of what it means to really support well-being; how the overarching ethos and culture of a school means far more to people’s well-being than any tokenistic add-ons such as free tea bags in the staffroom.

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Part-time Pay for Full-time Responsibilities

by Lindsay Patience @Mumsyme

I recently replied to a question on social media from someone returning after maternity to a Teaching and Learning Responsibility (TLR) asking if it was normal to have your TLR payment reduced if you reduced your working hours.

The query was posted in a Facebook group “MTPT Project – Connect!” which is a forum for teachers before, during or after parental leave. Of course the poster was surprised by the situation where she was still expected to complete 100% of her Teaching and Learning Responsibility but would only be paid 90% of the pay allowance.

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