Friday, 8 April 2016

Introducing #WomenEd

This week I am delighted to introduce a guest blog from Hannah Wilson, Co-Founder of #WomenEd, a community for women with leadership ambition in education and Professional Learning Consultant Leader at the Harris Federation.  Hannah tweets as @MissWilsey on Twitter and blogs as @Miss_Wilsey on StaffRm

#WomenEd is a community of educators connecting and collaborating to support women on
their leadership journeys.

Education remains a traditional, inflexible and patriarchal space and we work together to challenge and change the system to benefit all educators.  

We were conceived in Spring 2015 as a result of some posts about equality and the issues facing female leaders on Staffrm – a blogging community for educators. Some posts on ‘having it all’ led to discussions on Twitter and a small group us coming together to plan an event. As momentum grew through social media interest, we found ourselves being offered a partnership from the  Microsoft UK Education team and a venue for our first ‘Unconference’. 

Before we knew it 220 educators found themselves at Microsoft’s London Head Office on a
Saturday in Autumn 2015. This was a pivotal event as it took the lid off of the discussions and created a space for very honest disclosures and very personal reflections.  This space was female-friendly, safe and empathetic, which Twitter often is not, especially for women. See the article from Natash Devon recently in the TES and my post in response on Staffrm to see what I mean.

“WomenEd has allowed me to network with so many wonderful professionals who all have the same passions, fears, misgivings. I stepped out of my comfort zone last October to present as part of the 'Diverse Leadership' strand. It was daunting but also gave me further drive to continue to be the best leader I could be and reflect on what I had already achieved and how I had got there. The network is incredibly supportive and each collaboration continues to strengthen and develop us all. Those little nagging voices of self-doubt that many of us harbour can be shared and supported”. Shirley Drummond, Deputy Headteacher, Hertfordshire.

Building on the success of our inaugural event we started to recruit volunteers for our 12
regional networks to enable us to have a wider reach and to impact more educators on a regional level. 60 existing and aspiring female leaders volunteered their energy, experience and expertise. So throughout Spring 2016 we have spent time meeting each other both face-to-face and virtually to plan our shared vision for our grassroots movement.

Our mission is simple: to empower women in education to enable leadership to be a viable
choice. Our values, which we call the 8 C’s are clear: clarity, communication, connection, community, collaboration, confidence, challenge and change.
To support our community progress on their leadership journeys we held a residential event
in February, which is peak season for leadership interview seasons. 70 educators came together for a weekend in Wiltshire to work on the practicalities of letters, applications, CVs and interview techniques. Again, it was the opportunity to connect and reflect, sharing experiences with one another which resonated with us all.

“Working with WomenEd has offered me an amazing network of professionals from all
over the world who offer support, inspiration, humour, sharing of good practice and a space in which to consider my own leadership journey. Best of all, this has benefited my organisation too and the way we support, develop and prepare our future leaders and our students”. Annemarie Williams, Headteacher, East Midlands.

In early March #WomenEd celebrated International Women’s Day by holding a global
#digimeet on Staffrm where our community blogged from 8am to 8pm across the time zones, from Australia to America. This event was symbolic of the collaboration and connections that #WomenEd has created and celebrates between educators around the world.  You can catch up on the diverse posts on personal leadership experiences and professional challenges from around the world here:

Presenting on our journey at #TeachMeetLondon  I shared our delight at being mentioned in
the DfE’s White Paper and reflected on the impact that the #WomenEd movement has already had on our community in our first year of being, you can hear my presentation here:

“I have tapped some other sheroes on the shoulder and have built a really supportive
network of contacts far and wide to have conversations with. This all happened because
#womened said 'go on be 10% braver' - so I was!” Kathleen McGillycuddy, Assistant Headteacher in Bristol.

As we approach our 1st birthday in April 2016 we are preparing to launch our Regional
Networks and introduce our Regional Leaders. Each region will be hosting an informal birthday party to create new connections and start new conversations.  There will then be a series of #LeadMeets for you to join us at around the UK. Look out for us at #EduFest16 and #NorthernRocks this summer.

“WomenEd embodies everything I believe about supporting each other as professionals
and women in an open, honest and collegiate way. I love the challenges it raises and the creativity of the solutions explored. I feel that I am constantly learning from and working with amazing new colleagues. It enables me to share my own experiences and gain from those of others and it is a real privilege to be a part of!” Rosanna Raimaton, Consultant, Italy.

WomenEd is an inclusive and open community. We would love to connect and collaborate
with you. Please join us on social media or at a face-to-face event soon!

To find out more about #WomenEd:
Follow us on Twitter: @WomenEd

Visit our website:

Join us on Yammer:

Find us on Staffrm:

Book to join us on Eventbrite:   

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