WomenEd Blogs

Will you ask that little girl to play with me? What #WomenEd has done for me.


by Jackie Hill @hill1_jackie    #BirthdayCelebration

I didn’t know where to start when trying to say what #WomenEd has done for me. There is simply so much I could say …

Should I explain how #WomenEd has helped me to discover the power of Twitter? It's a fantastic source of CPD, as well as connecting me to the EduTwitter community all over the world.

Or how #WomenEd has prompted me to explore the many potential benefits of flexible working? I now jump in at every chance I get to advocate for more flexible working opportunities for all teachers and educators - at whatever age and stage of their career they might be.  Or how #WomenEd has caused me to reflect on what “grandmotherly” duties should mean (for me)? There’s so much I’d like to say about that …  Or how #WomenEd unconferences & events (organised so magnificently by our Strategic Leaders) have enabled me to get to know and learn from so many inspirational women? Not forgetting those inspirational #HeforShe men too. 

Of course, there is absolutely no way that I couldn’t include the joy of getting to know and collaborate with my @WomenEdNI sisters to set up the network in Northern Ireland. The seed of that was sown when we met at the “10% Braver” book launch in London in March 2019.

Who could have imagined then that we’d have 150+ committed educators at our inaugural unconference in September 2019! Our IWD20 event (one of the last gatherings just before lockdown), has been a real highlight for me this year.

I’m also blessed with being part of the @WomenEdNW network. It has been wonderful to join with such  brilliant colleagues to work on and plan for future events both locally and virtually. And then there’s the awesome #WomenEd Europe & Asia network, always pushing the boundaries in so many positive ways. I am learning such a lot from them!

So, what follows was not really what I would have expected to be the focus of my response but it’s actually what came out first when I started writing… It relates to one of WomenEd’s 8 values:


'Mummy, please would you ask that little girl to play with me?' My mother would often recall the occasion I asked her this question. I was painfully shy and lacking in confidence as a small child, possibly not helped by the fact that I missed a lot of early years in school because of ill health. I loved my later years in primary school and once I moved to secondary, I was fortunate to be in a school with some wonderful teachers and where I could really began to thrive. I even took leading roles in drama productions and other areas of school life. Nevertheless, that inner shy child never really left me…

When my daughter was a baby I remember putting my hand on her as she was sleeping in her cot and actively wishing that she would have so much more confidence than me. I was very aware that I needed to work on having more self-belief but I had no idea how to grow it for myself! I would have found it really helpful to know about being 10% braver then!

Looking back I can see particular times when I too readily held back, or compared myself (unfavourably) to others in all sorts of contexts – including as a teacher and aspiring leader. Two examples in particular come to mind. As an NQT in secondary, I didn’t question the wisdom of the LA Adviser on a CPD Day who announced to a roomful of my MFL colleagues from schools across the borough that my 10 years’ prior experience post-16 in FE didn’t count. And that was after he had asked me to talk about any previous teaching that I had done. 

A few years later, I allowed it to go unchallenged when told that a promised promotion to SLT had been blocked by an AHT because he thought it was 'too soon'. I simply accepted that I didn’t deserve it.

In spite of subsequent promotions and successes during my career, I would still from time to time joke about being found out one day. I thought I was the only person who felt like that …

Of course, I now know that, like so many others, I had been experiencing Imposter Syndrome – Confidence’s ugly sister. It was through #WomenEd that I finally recognised this, was able to give it a name and to call it out! I was amazed to read in 10% Braver that there was scarcely a woman approached to contribute a chapter to the book who didn’t undergo some degree of imposter syndrome, either initially or whilst writing! I have now explored how it has affected others in different contexts and I share that with colleagues, family and friends whenever I can – so that they can call it out too!

I also love the fact that CONFIDENCE is one of the 8 “Cs” or values of #WomenEd. All eight WomenEd values are so important but the confidence factor is key for me – it provides the liberating self-belief that can lead to so much. It empowers you to embrace challenges – to say YES I CAN. I want others to be empowered with this too - our students, our beginning and early career teachers and indeed learners of all ages so that they too can say YES I CAN.  YES, I really can learn and/or do things well. YES, it’s ok to ask for support when I need it. YES, I will eventually achieve that goal I’ve set. YES, I should apply for that job. YES, I do deserve success when it arrives.

#WomenEd provides such an inspirational and supportive network for teachers at all stages of their careers, encouraging them to be 10%braver so that they can take their next step forward (if / when they choose) and celebrating their achievements. I love being part of it, and I’m so pleased that my daughter, who is now all grown up and a teacher herself, is able to be part of it too.


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Wednesday, 07 December 2022

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