WomenEd Blogs

The Sledgehammer

The Sledgehammer by Rona Grant

by Rona Grant  @RonaGrant

My thoughts on "10% Braver: Inspiring Women to lead Education"

It was an unremarkable Tuesday afternoon when it made its arrival. A loud smack as it hit the tiles in an overly extravagant amount of heavy packaging, causing the dog to raise his head and growl at the rapidly retreating delivery van.

I was in the middle of sanding a wall in the living room so it would be ready for wallpapering. The trials of renovating an old house mean these activities are never ending. I was waiting on the imminent delivery of a new drill - a treat to myself so I could put up new shelves. The noise indicated the likely arrival of the drill…

...only it wasn't.

I'd been looking forward to reading "10% Braver: Inspiring Women to Lead Education"; a book that had been on my 'to do' list for a while, but life kept getting in the way: looking after my family, upskilling in a new job, renovating a home and all the other multifarious activities that are daily life. Anyway, as I ripped open the packaging I realised the book was here… and I'd have to wait a bit longer for the drill.

The rest of the day was taken up with work - then the usual evening shenanigans sorting out dinner, teenager taxi service, helping with homework, dog walking. I eventually picked up the book later in the evening. I had no intention of reading it right then and there but once I started it was impossible to put down. You know that way when you read something that just makes complete sense? This book is like reading over thoughts that you've had swirling round in your own head. Despite being tired I read most of it that night – finishing it off the next day during my lunch hour.

What gripped me immediately about "10% Braver" were the self-reflection prompts at the end of the first chapter:

  • Why are you reading the #WomenEd book?
  • How will it encourage you to be #10%Braver?
  • Can you identify, articulate and embody your core values as a person and a leader?
  • What impact do you want this book to have on you personally and professionally?

Reading this book was never going to be a passive experience. It forced me to think. It felt like it clarified my beliefs and sounded a call to action for the way I should be conducting myself.

Every. Single. Day.

The idea of authentic leadership is a particularly empowering one. I think it's especially empowering for women. We don't have to learn any special traits of leadership and mould ourselves accordingly. We don't need to morph ourselves into something we are not. As a younger teacher I quickly learned the importance of empowering young people. We make sure we are the cheerleader of our young people, we are their voice when they find voicing their own needs difficult, we are the support mechanism in the system and the people who do all we can to empower young people to move things forward for themselves. You get it. All laudable. But what of being the advocate for ourselves? Where has this been lost along the way? What about working harder and in a more obvious way for other women in education?

The #WomenEd movement is a grassroots organisation that has pushed its way onto the educational landscape. It has happened naturally and has gathered momentum quickly because there is, quite simply, a need.

"We are a community of change makers who have agency, a shared vision and a collective voice."

This is a powerful book with a powerful message. One of the most important things I want to leave as my legacy is that my girls will have learned that they must speak up for themselves – and for others. I want them to see that they can aim for anything they want. There are no limitations for young women if they can just push themselves to be 10%braver. I want my girls to have had a mum who was a strong role model and one who helped them fight for their own ambitions.

"WomenEd is the sledgehammer that smashes the glass ceiling. It is the choice of the individual whether they want to climb through that hole or not."

I'm certainly ready to climb through. 

I'm happy to embrace the opportunities afforded by the sledgehammer, even though I only ordered a drill!

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Thursday, 08 June 2023

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