WomenEd Blogs

Assumptions – and why we need to continue to challenge them

by Tanya Hall @TheRealTMH

A recent Twitter post by @AdamMGrant got me thinking about the assumptions associated with women in education: are 'women who assert their ideas, make direct requests, and advocate for themselves liked less' and are they 'less likely to get hired?'  So, I go back to my first promotion to 2nd in faculty – an internal post – where I was interviewed by the HOD and Headteacher. After being successfully appointed I was told later – quite some time later – that the headteacher had referred to me as a ‘firecracker.’ What did he mean by that?

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Supporting Resilience In The Workplace

By Sam Fuller, Director & Founder of The Wraw Index

Navigating the Covid-19 pandemic has dialled up the pressure on employees in all sectors, but for those working in education the challenge has been unprecedented. Now, as schools break for the summer, the invitation is to take stock. How has the pandemic impacted staff wellbeing, and what can we learn from this to continue to support those in education to perform at their best? We recently conducted a study of employee resilience and wellbeing across the UK, analysing data from almost 9,500 working people. The findings, laid out in the Wraw Resilience Report 2021, give a detailed breakdown of resilience in the workplace today, and provide important insight for leaders in education.

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We Need To Talk More About Periods. Period.

by Anna Zyla

I used to teach at a school that had 55 minute blocks. My prep periods were bundled together in the morning leaving me with an afternoon of four back-to-back classes. Any woman around 13-55 can likely spot the potential issue here. Forget about peeing. When was I supposed to change my tampon? I taught seventh grade so while many of the students knew about periods I definitely didn’t want them knowing anything about mine! The thought alone was horrifying.

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What’s Next for Afghan Women: An Interview with Judge Najla Ayoubi

by Karen Sherman @karsherman

It was years ago, in 1992, but the day is etched in Judge Najla Ayoubi’s memory. She was at home, on the outskirts of Kabul, when she heard the crack of a gunshot nearby. She ran outside to find someone collapsed in the street. Anxious to help, Najla hurried past a neighbor who told her it was her father. As he lay bleeding, Najla went to grab a head covering she dared not leave without and rushed her father to the hospital. It was too late. Eight other people were assassinated that day.

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Vice Principal to Mum and back again

by Lorraine Walker @LWalkerTeach

 

'Half (51%) of employers agree that there is sometimes resentment amongst employees towards women who are pregnant or on maternity leave.' (Equality and Human Rights Commission, 2018)

I (shamefully) admit to previously having jealous thoughts towards staff who left work on time, arrived on time, didn’t participate in evening events, confidently declined summer school classes, and received a year off work.

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What can we do to create a better awareness around women’s health in the workplace?

by Fertility Issues in Teaching @fert_teaching

Women make up 75.8% of the teaching workforce. It’s time we do more to support the majority. Supporting wellness for women through huge life events such as menopause and even infertility can increase staff retention and save a lot of money.

Here's how businesses and organisations can support women’s health in the workplace!

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Can COVID-19 break the rigid opposition to teachers working flexibly?

Dr Katy Marsh-Davies @KatyAcademic

It feels strange to talk about a global pandemic having upsides but as we hope we are approaching the end of many restrictions in the UK, it seems apt to reflect on what lessons we might learn from the life-changing experience we’ve all been through.  As a Business School academic, with a passion for exploring professional lives, I spent last year researching teachers’ experiences of working remotely.

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Gender and middle leadership: A personal reflection

Dr Sadie Hollins @_WISEducation

‘How you are seen may affect how you are heard.’  This was one of many lines in Prof. Jennifer Eberhardt’s book ‘Biased: Uncovering the Hidden Prejudice That Shapes What We See, Think, and Do’ that resonated with me. In this context Eberhardt was talking about the gender bias in the historic hiring of female classical musicians for orchestras. Mounting criticism over the lack of female musicians during the 1970s led to many orchestras adopting ‘blind auditions’ so as to not reveal the identity of the auditionee, and therefore avoid any bias that may unfairly affect the outcome.

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Inspiring women to lead education

by Vivienne Porritt @ViviennePorritt

Two of WomenEd’s campaigns are about the representation of women in leadership roles in education, with a particular focus on women with an ethnic heritage. We know the stats show men are disproportionately represented and the pace of change in altering what leaders look like is glacial.This is a key reason for our partnership with The National College of Education in England.

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We'll meet again

by Gwawr McGirr @gwawrmcgirr

As lockdown in March 2020 became inevitable I can remember feeling a sense of shock. At times like this – being a musician – I draw on the tremendous resource that is music, and I felt a really strong sense that as a Music Department we should share a few occasional pieces of music to the staff team, to keep people’s spirits up, whilst also providing a means to connect with other staff. My HOD, as ever, was very supportive of the idea and told me to work away!

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#ChooseToChallenge

by Christalla Jamil @ChristallaJ (National Leader for @WomenEdEngland)

 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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The Power of Connections

by Zoe Enser @greeborunner

I never really understood networking. It was something which was increasingly mentioned as I moved into leadership, but I never knew quite what it meant or indeed why it was a good thing. People said it would help me with my career and enable me to do my job better, but never really told me how. It was also based on the premise I was ambitious and wanted to progress, as opposed to just being happy in what I was doing, but that is a whole other discussion. Networking had also become a bit of a dirty word to me.

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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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Choose to Challenge - #IWD2021

 by Anna Ambrose  @AnnaAmbrose

On Friday 6th March, 2021, I noticed a thing on my Facebook feed. It was the last day (for now at least, fingers crossed) of home-schooling for families in England. And men were busy thanking their amazing wives* for home-schooling their children. There were gifts. Flowers. Champagne. The works. How lovely.

[*Obviously not everyone is married. But these posts were genuinely all about wives, so I may over-use the word in what follows.]

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Calling IT out

by Kerry Jordan-Daus @KerryJordanDaus  #IWD2021

International Women’s Day 2021, a call out to challenge, there is a choice to be made. But what is IT I am choosing to challenge?

For me, this is a choice about what would make life fairer. I want to challenge the unfairness that is so deeply embedded in the everyday that IT is not noticed as unfairness. IT is normalised. IT has become learnt behaviour.

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