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Equality and Ambition

09 March 2017

“Why are all the pictures in the library of dead people?” a student was reported to ask her teacher recently. “In fact, dead, old men? Where are the women?” Today is International Women’s Day. Did you know? Especially if you are a man?

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The day is not only a celebration, it also focuses on the struggle for women’s rights across the world, and for all those of us involved in nurturing students, it is an important moment to reflect on how we support this sense of equality in our students. The day itself has a long history back to the beginning of the last century, but includes bold initiatives undertaken in Austria, Germany, Russia, Switzerland, USA and the Suffrage movement in the UK. So, after 100 years, has the movement made progress? Yes, of course. In many countries around the world women now have the right to vote for their government, alongside men. Professions are open to both men and women and women’s legal rights are better protected. Yet there is still a pay divide reported in many industries and services and we hear reports of "glass ceilings" still intact, there is still an uneasy feeling of nominalism felt by some women in senior roles. 

Addressing these issues is a responsibility for all. We changed the pictures in our library to include inspirational women of history. We have a student group (led by a female student) proposing a shortlist of living women scientists and creatives to be the inspirational ‘nameplate’ for our new fantastic Secondary MiT space, to be unveiled this autumn. However, encouraging our female students, our female members of staff, and the female members of our wider community, to embrace the Nord Anglia Education motto of ‘Be Ambitious’ is something that all of us, male or female must embrace. Perhaps, like me, you saw an encouraging indication of changing mind-sets in the news that Lego is to release a ‘Women of NASA’ mini figure set, as a result of a ‘Lego Idea’ submitted by Maia Weinstock, a science editor and writer at MiT news. Without doubt, large advances still need to be made in securing equal rights for women around the world, by both men and women. But also small steps, such as the ambitious and inspirational name of our MiT space, or the mini figures of Lego’s play sets are all important parts of developing a momentum of societal change that affords everyone an equal place at the table of life’s opportunities. So, it falls on each of us to play our part in promoting opportunity for all our children, and for an open minded embrace of equality and ambition, regardless of gender.

So congratulations to all those in the world who campaign for women’s rights and equality. We celebrate you this day and join you in ensuring that we keep being ambitious for all our students, boys and girls, in equal measure.

Dr Neil Hopkin, Principal

P.S. We encourage all parents to consider whether they could represent their year group at the Principal’s Parent Consultation Group. If you missed the link to propose yourself for this role, please find it here. If you would like to talk to me about the role, you can catch me at either school gate on alternate mornings, or at the Senior Production on its first night (I have to attend a NAE event on the second evening, but my Vice Principal Ms Meehan will be there should you have any questions about the group).