Page 12 - Independent Schools Magazine
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Tackling gender bias
St Mary’s School, Cambridge, held its inaugural Dads4Daughters event at which 40 day girls and boarders from Year 10 to Upper Sixth were accompanied by some of
the signi cant men in their lives (fathers, uncles, rowing coaches, and form tutors) to discuss workplace gender bias. The school joined other Girls’ Schools Association (GSA) member schools across the country in marking the  rst national Dads4Daughters day.
Headmistress and 2017 GSA President Charlotte Avery
greeted the audience: “We
value enormously the role that women play in those jobs that
are perceived to have been traditionally women’s roles – from being the  rst educator of their own children, or nursing the
sick – but we equally value the contribution that women can make in those roles that were once thought of as traditionally male roles – perhaps as astronauts or football players. What is important is that each child is encouraged and equipped to pursue whatever ambition they choose for themselves; this is what we do at St Mary’s School, Cambridge.
“When our girls enter the workplace they are likely to encounter some level of gender bias. This is what we hope to address – to  ag up some areas where both men and women are still perpetuating a sense
of inequality in the workplace, whether knowingly doing so or
not, and to promote positive action to tackle this issue.”
GSA member schools recently teamed up to survey their alumnae about their experiences in the workplace, the results of which set the format of the St Mary’s School Dads4Daughters evening. Six
topics were discussed (for instance whether workplaces are becoming more equal, or what tactics will further equality most effectively) and the students attending were invited to vote and show whether they agreed or disagreed with
the statements put to them. As student votes were calculated
the GSA alumnae survey results were revealed and a guest panel – including Lord Andrew Lansley, and chaired by guest of honour Dame Sandra Dawson – debated each topic in a Question Time format with questions and comments from the  oor, before students’ votes were revealed.
On many points alumnae and students’ views were well aligned:
71% of GSA alumnae have witnessed/experienced workplace gender inequality and 75% of school students expect to; 75%
of GSA alumnae believe things
are improving for women in the workplace, as do 71% of students. Of six suggested ways to encourage gender equality (including pay transparency, encouragement of positive male behaviour, and more widespread/generous paternity leave) there was unanimous agreement that seeing more senior female role models would have
the greatest impact, and that both recruitment quotas and an attitude of ‘doing nothing and expecting attitudes to change over time’ would have least effect.
However the panel and audience were surprised to see how current students’ views on other questions differed to those of the alumnae surveyed. While only four in
10 alumnae have attempted to change gender inequality in their workplace, the student vote was met with applause, with nine out
of 10 students committed to doing so. Interestingly, on the topic of whether men could do more to support women in the workplace, 75% of alumnae agreed that they could, but only 43% of students did. Of four areas of workplace inequality about which respondents might be most concerned, alumnae opted for unequal pay whereas students’ primary concerns were sexist attitudes (45%) and a lack of respect (41%).
Concluding the event Dame Sandra Dawson commented: “Men at the moment are in power and so men need to be involved in change. Unconscious bias comes in lots of forms and it is always beholden on all of us to question why things are the way they are, and whether we are really as genuinely inclusive as we believe we are. My own children have helped me realise some of
my own areas of unconscious bias, which is why events such as this are so essential, because hearing from these young women will help us all to further gender equality.”
Pankhurst Statue - First Glimpse
Left to right: Seren Seo, Graham Brady MP, Claire Hewitt, Head Mistress and Alexandra Thacker
Pupils from Manchester High School for Girls, the school that suffragette leader, Emmeline Pankhurst, chose for her three daughters, were given  rst glimpse of the six creations that have been shortlisted for the statue of Mrs Pankhurst that will be erected in St Peter’s Square in 2019.
The students attended an unveiling event at Portcullis House, London as guests of Jeff Smith, MP for Manchester Withington, and Andrew Simcock, Councillor for Didsbury East. Councillor Simcock has led the WoManchester
campaign since 2014. It will see the  rst female statue erected in Manchester for over 100 years.
The event saw the six sculptors that have been shortlisted to create the  nal statue each unveil a 40cm bronze maquette of their vision.
Alongside the 12 Manchester High students, who were all selected based on an interest in art, politics or both, female MPs from the House of Commons were also invited to share their opinions on the pieces and cast a vote for their favourite.
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