School Business Leadership

Women and Power: A Revelation

I’m supposed to be sitting down to do a few hours of that weekend catch up that we all do, ready for Monday morning. But I can’t. I’m buzzing from today’s WomenEd Bookclub Twitter chat with Mary Beard.

I was so excited when I heard about the Bookclub reading ‘Women and Power: a Manifesto’ that I went straight online to buy it and put the date and time in my calendar. Classical and Roman history with a leadership slant? Not an event to be missed.

Now, those who know me will tell you that I’m usually a little bit reticent about being involved in all-women and woman focused events, I’ve been burned in the past and I can admit, after a lot of past soul-searching, that I don’t find female relationships easy. But the opportunity be involved in a chat with Mary was too much to pass up and I’ve learned a massive amount in a few short hours.

Firstly, if you haven’t read the book you must – male or female. It is an analysis of how classical, mythical and recent history presents the role of women and power and how these views still inform our current perceptions and thinking. It asserts that we must work to redefine “power” and that, although change is happening, we must not wait for a gradual evolution, but work together to  promote the skills and attitudes of women within leadership to ensure that voices are heard, progress is made and a more appropriate power balance is found among genders.

It was during the vibrant and informative chat today that I finally had the revelation. This is what @WomenEd are doing. And, more importantly, by doing it as part of the collaborative model in Education, they will actually help to improve the perceptions and opportunities of all the young people that women in Education influence every single day of the term.

I’ll admit that I was concerned that the conversation would centre around how we could encourage girls to speak out in class. Don’t misunderstand me, I think that is an important thread, but it wasn’t the bigger picture discussion that I was hoping for. And got.

There were lots of questions, discussion and answers about how we could challenge the status quo, how we could change language and what the outcomes might be. I firmly believe that I shouldn’t try to adopt male attitudes or project the male viewpoint. I’m not, and don’t want to be, a man. But I do wonder if I found, as a girl, that in order to be heard I should behave like a tomboy. Has that tool remained subconsciously within me into my professional life?

Of course, I want to continue to find ways of promoting my skills as a leader (and non-teacher) in Education so that I can be accepted as such and I want to be involved at the highest level. It is so easy to listen to the knock backs – “she is too confident” (I’ve had that one quite a few times in my life), “too outspoken”, “is not a teacher – won’t understand” – the fact is I do understand, I am confident (who else is going to be confident for me if not me?) and I’m damned if I’m going to let you shut me up because I’m wearing high heels.

Collaboration on this (as is the case in many aspects of change) is key. I need to work with others to break down those barriers, both perceived and real, that I see around me every day. If not for me then to ensure my daughter has opportunities of leadership or power, in whatever career she pursues,  if she chooses to take them. I need to speak out for her now. I need to help with the work in laying the ground so that she has access to those corridors of power on her terms, in her heels.

Thank you @WomenEd for a truly inspirational day and for finally making me see what being a woman in Education is all about. I look forward to our next event.

You can see today’s thread on #womenEd. I highly recommend it to you.

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