Shining a light on a blind spot: women’s leadership

Posted 8 November 2019 9:00am

I have taught at four highly academic girls’ schools in Australia, and I now lead a school with a consistently brilliant academic tradition here in the ACT.

I have deliberately chosen to work in girls’ schools because I believe in the power of these schools to educate, inspire and transform modern Australian women.

Education is vital to the advancement of women. Our job in that regard, as we know, is not yet done.

A high-quality education braces women against discrimination. It’s a proven fact. Education has benefited generations of Australian women. It’s not the complete answer – structural change is needed – but it is a key part of the answer. Above all else, it is the one protective factor we can do something about today.

Education does not just change opportunities for girls and women at university or in the workforce. It protects them in all aspects of their life, where girls and young women live, where they gather, and where they work – it bolsters every facet.

To not see how girls’ schools can and do power-charge girls and young women into their future is a blind spot.

We need to stand up for girls, groups of girls being together and girls’ schools. Any terminology used to describe girls that diminishes them, diminishes the gender and is deeply offensive.

I am going to urge patience because change is happening and our female students are leading the way.

This is what I know about students and the generation of future women in classrooms today:

Their version of leadership is their version of influence. Influence in a girls’ school is constant ripples out from every event where the leaders of sports teams, school councils, and cultural activities are creating the next generations of leaders. It is great leadership because they are creating great leaders. They are not care-takers but taking care of those in their care.

Their leadership is influential and has a ripple effect that they call school spirit in action. When I watch senior students talking to the younger students, I see a constant unstoppable building of the next generation of leaders by young women to younger women. That sort of thing is amazing to watch.

Mrs Anna Owen

*Our Principal, Mrs Anna Owen, will present on this topic at TEDxCanberra Women 2019 on 11 December. Tickets will go on sale on 11 November 2019, through Eventbrite.