08 Mar 2022
Women have been disproportionately affected by COVID-19 and although we've seen improvements in representation in recent years, we still have a long way to go.
Over the coming months, we’ll be hearing from women and girls across a spectrum of age groups, ethnicities, backgrounds and industries. We'll learn from women who have trailblazed their way to the top, ones who are still figuring it out and those who are just getting started. Tramshed Tech is soon to expand to new locations across Wales and beyond and we want women to be front and centre in this growth.
In this episode of our 'So she did...’ series, Louise Harris, Co-Founder & Director of Tramshed Tech and Big Learning Company catches up with Mel Godfrey, Director of Education and Lifelong Learning at Cardiff Council. Mel is the first female Director of Education in Cardiff and works closely with Sarah Merry, Deputy Leader and Cabinet Member for Education, Employment and Skills to form a powerful duo leading on education in the city. Listen to the full conversation here.
It's an interesting question in that we talk a lot about the negative impacts, but there are some positive impacts as well. There are examples where a lot of children and young people have enjoyed learning from home which begs the question; can we do more in terms of that hybrid and blended learning? – having the opportunity to not only learn in a school building, but also to learn at home.
There have been negative consequences and impacts, but I think we need to be balanced and try to learn from the opportunities the pandemic has provided as well as re-think how we deliver education in the future.
A long-standing debate that took place pre pandemic was around classrooms without walls and what this would lead to. It's interesting because it's initiated discussions and teachers have been forced to deliver remote learning now. I feel this has made teachers more open to change and they've done an absolutely sterling job. Especially considering that they were forced to adapt almost overnight, and deliver education under very difficult circumstances.
When I first started as a surveyor, it had lots of challenges and some of them make me smile when I reflect. The negativity that you experience – whether that be gender bias, age bias, competency bias etc – my advice would be: Keep going! Bash through it. I tell my two young daughters to bash their way through it. It's the learning that comes with that experience that makes you more resilient. Don’t let anyone deter you from your aims and goals.
“Don't let anyone deter you from your aims and goals. Bias can sometimes diminish your competence. My advice is, don't let it!”
We strive to continue to improve the landscape for girls and women in education and as they move into employment.
For me personally, I'm so busy getting the job done that International Women's Day gives me that day of reflection. It’s an opportunity to review the progress we’ve made but also focus on the progress we still need to make.
It also it makes me self-reflect as well on myself as a woman in the workplace. As I said earlier, don't be deterred. Bash through and get on with a job. It's an opportunity to stop talking and self-reflect.
“International Women's Day is an opportunity to review the progress we’ve made but also focus on the progress we still need to make”
That self-reflection is key to success and getting things done. Being inclusive and having that diversity are key components of that. Diversity means a variation of opinions, challenges and different perspectives. This reinforces how important those attributes are, to me personally and within the context of working in education in Cardiff.
This is a really poignant question. What is leadership? Leadership has primarily been seen for some time as strength, but I believe that key attributes to leadership are intelligence, creativity, innovation and competency. All of which are attributes that women can clearly provide.
I saw an interesting tweet a couple of weeks ago about leadership, and what are the two key attributes, and it was warmth and competence. And in that tweet, it made the point that if you start leadership from a place of strength, not warmth, what that does is creates fear. And I think it's absolutely key in being a leader, you need to connect with people, and to eliminate that fear, have warmth. And I think the female SSP males are good at giving warmth and making that connection. That's the key attributes women can provide.
What is leadership? Leadership has primarily been seen for some time as strength, but I believe that key attributes to leadership are intelligence, creativity, innovation and competency. All of which are attributes that women can clearly provide.
To tackle the gender bias we need to tackle it in its wider context. It's about that exposure to experiences and opportunities that children's young people may not have considered. Key to that is speaking to our children, young people at an early enough age so we can break down the barriers of those stereotypes and biases, setting the culture much earlier on in their education path Cardiff Commitment has been doing some fantastic work across our schools in that respect.
Then it is about creating opportunities for our young people that may not necessarily have happened. For example, we had two young learners from a school in Cardiff go to Dubai on the World Expo 2020 for the UK debate — and they would never have had that experience without the support of the school system in Cardiff and fantastic Cardiff commitment programme.
I think there's been a shift and that shift is having an impact. It is an improving the picture but absolutely, we can do more. The Cardiff Commitment programme is fundamental to speaking to those children, young people, particularly young females at an early age, so they don’t find themselves stereotyped and believing that only or certain professions or career paths is what they should follow. We're making good progress. But absolutely, we can do more.
“Is fundamental to speaking to those children, young people, particularly young females at an early age, so they don’t find themselves stereotypes and believing that only certain professions, or certain paths or careen progression is what they should follow.”
It's interesting the built environment angle because it is not just that it’s been built around a male dominated perspective, it is also an environment that is built by elder people. Another key piece of work that we are doing at Cardiff is through Minecraft, allowing our children and young people to have a say on the built environment across the city. So, it is more than a gender bias – it's also an age bias and I think it's absolutely fundamental that children and young people have an influence on the city as it grows.
“It's a really exciting time for education, yes, we've had the impact of the virus, but there's a massive reform underway to really change education.”
Listen to the full conversation: https://businessnewswales.com/re-envisioning-education-in-a-post-pandemic-world.
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