Why is discussing gender issues so contentious?


#WomenEd proudly hosted the above #SLTchat this weekend - the discussions were passionate and split the audience.

They were all centred around the topics, questions and concerns that had been raised in the last few months since the steering group self-formed: 

@Vivienne @helenamarsh  @nataliescott @keziah @equitableed @jules @misswilsey 

I have pulled together the headlines below and some of the tips from those who contributed to the #SLTchat and to subsequent twitter conversations...

Tips for leaders for juggling responsibility  and ambition with personal life and family time:

* Protect your wellbeing - maintain a healthy body and a healthy mind

* Make your partner a full partner  - remember to #LeanInType or Add image

* Share domestic and familial responsibilities Add image

* Define your priorities

* Hold firm to what you will not compromise on

* Establish a support network

* Ensure a balance of time between professional and personal time

* Research your childcare options

* Lead by example in modelling how you ring-fence your time

* Respect the needs of others

* Learn to say 'No!'

* Develop your delegation skills 

* Step back regularly to review and evaluate


* Does your school have a family ethos?

* Does your Headteacher promote a culture of work-life balance?

* Do the Governors promote flexi-contracts for career parents?

* Is the Leadership Team in your school a cohesive group who share commitments and events?

* Do they model a healthy work-life balance?

Golden Rules:

* Identify your non-negotiables

* Protect your 'me' time

* Ring-fence family time

* Never sync work emails to your mobile phone

* Agree on electronic free family-time

* Stop feeling guilty! (At work and at home)

Personal Reflections:

* Am I fulfilled in my current role and current context?

* Am I balancing my professional and personal ambitions?

* Am I a supportive Leader?  

* Do we look after our female colleagues returning from maternity leave? 

* Am I a role model for the younger women I work with and the students I teach?

* Am I in control of the pace of my career and my progression?

* Do I impose any barriers on myself or others?

* Would I be able to manage my current role and have a family?

 Final Thoughts:

"Be realistic!"

"Don't try to be a super-hero(ine)!" (@HelenaMarsh)

"Great leaders do not do everything themselves - grow your team!"  (@RajUnsworth)

"Turn your priority list into a success list."

"Don't be a slave to perfectionism". (@JillBerry)

"Resist demand for presenteeism." (@KateChhatwal)

"Don't compare/ compete hours with colleagues". (@ZoeAndrew)







mike highton mike highton @isright 11 months ago
Hi Hannah - did you intend to make this thread look as though it was female biased? The family shoes, shorter vaulting pole, the points appearing to be women orientated? Or have I turned my own views into a biased approach? Mine isn't intended.
Vivienne Porritt Vivienne Porritt @vivienne 11 months ago
@misswilsey Thanks for summing up what was a fast and furious #sltchat with over 650 tweets. We know gender based issues can cause contention and it's great that we are discussing and debating so openly - worse if the issues are hidden in the dark. Shining a light on them helps everyone understand,mcontribute more and ask the questions they may feel can't be asked. More needed.
Zoe Andrews Zoe Andrews @zoe 11 months ago
I'm not quite sure how family shoes are female biased?

A nice summary of a really useful event Hannah. Thank you for sharing, it was great to get involved. Looking forward to the next #WomenEd event. It's certainly made me reflect on my role as a senior leader and whether I always model the behaviours/values that I would like my staff to see.
Hannah Wilson Hannah Wilson @misswilsey 11 months ago
Hi @isright - it is actually a work in process and is not finished - my laptop kept crashing and I lost it twice. However, converse are unisex so was not a gender specific image.... Am going to finish tonight...
Hannah Wilson Hannah Wilson @misswilsey 11 months ago
@zoe - thanks, me too, significant reflection needed and adaptations to be made to protect our own wellbeing next year.
Jennifer Hart Jennifer Hart @jenniferhart 10 months ago
Your title implies there was some sort of battle - what was it? I think @isright was asking why balancing work and home life is being portrayed as a female only issue? (Apologies if I've got that wrong!) The advice given would appear to be gender neutral yet the title and pole vaulting image is implying something very different...
mike highton mike highton @isright 10 months ago
spot on Jennifer - thanks.
Jill Berry Jill Berry @jillberry 10 months ago
Thanks for the summary, Hannah - and I do understand why some get cross at the implication that finding a balance is a purely female issue. It isn't, of course, but women can feel under particular pressure and, in my experience, prone to guilt - sometimes, frustratingly, both at home and at work. They can also be faced with specific professional challenges which are gender-related, and the #womened debate will consider those, too, but this #SLTchat focussed on the "juggling" issue because that's what people voted for, I know.

So I think we have to keep raising the issues and having the discussion, even if it antagonises some, and the discussion needs to involve men and women. We have to resolve this together as both men and women need a workable personal/professional balance in their lives and supporting each other is key.

@vivienne @jenniferhart @isright @zoe
mike highton mike highton @isright 10 months ago
Jill - I hope you didn't think I was being antagonistic by my original comment to Hannah? I have had the opportunity in several different schools to be the 'Token Male' and other than on one occasion I have always felt that I was treated fairly/equally as my female colleagues. That being the case, I try to do the same with all my female colleagues as a matter of professionalism.
On the one occasion - lasting a few years, I was the 'Bouncer', the Trouble Shooter', the 'Policeman', the 'Trouble causer' etc .... you name it and I got the blame. And yes I did seek assistance from my Professional Association - resulting in a sideways move and a rebuilding of reputation. So please also consider that your 'Male' colleagues are just as prone to the difficulties you are highlighting for women.
Jill Berry Jill Berry @jillberry 9 months ago
@isright - definitely wasn't having a dig at you, Mike! But the chat and subsequent comment did cause some strong feeling - inevitably, I think. My view is that we just mustn't let this deter us, and if there's disagreement we need to look constructively at how we can work through it rather than back off from it. Conflict and confrontation can be GOOD! They certainly make us think.

Sorry for the late reply - only just seen this.
mike highton mike highton @isright 9 months ago
All is cool Jill - hope you enjoed your holiday? Discussion & Disagreement is good too.
Jill Berry Jill Berry @jillberry 9 months ago
Thanks, @isright - and yes! Have had a great summer. I hope you have too.
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