International Women's Day 2021
International Women's Day 2021 - #ChooseToChallenge
This year, the campaign for International Women's Day is #ChooseToChallenge – choosing to challenge gender inequality, bias and stereotyping.
‘Respect’ and ‘Equality’ are part of our school Vision and Ethos and are things that we are proud to promote.
In the run up to International Women’s Day, our staff were asked to share their personal experiences and times that they have witnessed gender inequality. Please see their entries below.
“I get stereotyped for being a lesbian all the time because I’m into sport and play football. It is assumed that I must have questioned my sexuality. It doesn’t offend me, as I don’t think being a lesbian is here nor there.”
“When I worked at a previous school, I was second in the department. The HOD was female and younger than me. Every parents evening or open evening I would be asked questions as most parents assumed that I was in charge because I was male and older. They would always apologise and look a bit sheepish.”
"This is such an important message as it affects men as well as women. Stereotyping women also means we stereotype men, it is important that our young students recognise this so we can all work together to create a gender equal world.
The amount of incidents where I have experienced bias, stereotyping or inequality in my life are too numerous to mention. I come across them every day in general conversation and in the actions of those around me as stereotypes of men and women are so ingrained in our society. Women are seen as delicate and the ‘carers’ and men are strong and the ‘providers’. I come across it when taking my car for a service, putting the bins outside my house, taking rubbish to the local tip, clearing snow from my drive or stacking my log delivery. One of the worst times I can recall was when I collected a hire car at a European airport and was asked where the man was! Stereotyping is all around us and we need to all work together to get change, we need men to speak up too not just women. I am proud that my son questions why women footballers aren’t paid the same as men or why their matches aren’t shown on prime TV. I am proud that my daughter never questions if she will be able to succeed in her chosen career. However these are just small steps and we still have a long way to go."
“I worked for many years as a Sports physio for mainly men’s football teams and travelled the world with various teams to international competitions. I worked for Middlesex FA on their board and was Assistant manager of the 2nd Team in The Conference League, always on the side-lines rooting for my team, at times offering the Ref my glasses! On the side-lines I was asked many times by the opposition team what I knew about football as a women- (my boys taking a sharp intake of breath and taking a step away!). The strangest experience I had was in New Zealand when I offered my services for free to our local men’s team and was told that I could not possibly go into a dressing room unless accompanied by a man!”
“I have been working for over 35 years and thankfully outward bias, stereotyping and inequality is not as prevalent as it once was, protected by stronger legislation. Sadly, subtle bias, stereotyping and inequality remains. As an English specialist I am often struck by the use of language in workplaces and the media, for instance often men are described as assertive, women bossy. Women in power face criticism what they wear, look like and their relationships. Our current prime minister is a divorced, unmarried parent - I can’t see a female being in that position of power!
Whenever I have encountered bias, inequality and stereotyping, I have always challenged it and if possible, spoken to the individual privately. Having a 1-1 conversation rather than confrontation can have better outcomes moving forward. As if we didn’t know, education is the key to changing attitudes and culture!
I take inspiration from many women and one of my favourites is the late Professor Maya Angelou who once said “Each time a woman stands up for herself, without knowing it possibly, without claiming it, she stands up for all women.””
"I'm proud to support International Women's Day. As a father to a daughter and a husband, I feel it is incredibly important that we teach our young men to challenge inequality, bias and stereotyping.” – Mr St John
We also spoke with a few of our pupils and asked them to share some of their thoughts on International Women’s Day. Here is what they said –
“Women in the 1800 didn’t get to vote, neither did they get a say in politics and were usually told to stay at home and learn how to be a good wife, through reading stereotypical magazines and books. Women today, in our multi-cultural society still often don’t get the same pay as men, even when doing the same job.” Tom, Year 8
“I think International Women’s Day is a good idea, because women have not always had it so easy. For example, they had to protest just to vote and even then they weren’t equal. This day represents all the work that women have had to put in, just so that they would be treated equal.” Ollie, Year 9
“In my personal opinion, International Women’s Day is a day that is too small, as we cannot combine everything needed to be said, into just a day. However, I also feel that we shouldn’t NEED a day and that achievements by women and equality should be shown throughout the whole year. To summarise, we shouldn’t need International Women’s Day, but it is good that it exists.” Sixth Form Student