Why do so few women in Britain get the jobs they deserve
I was incredibly fortunate to be an education leader during the 12 years of Labour Government from 1997 to 2010. This was an era of great policies for education, health and housing.
I worked in education, but health and housing were extremely important for our children and their families. When I left school, there were at least a third of women secondary heads in my region. Now those figures are much lower.
There are now incredible women leaders across Europe and the world, although not in Germany since last year. Think of Finland and Estonia, Scotland, Northern Ireland, Moldova, Lithuania, Greece, Denmark, New Zealand, Nepal, Norway and many more. Most are youthful (around 30/40) and full of energy, joy and determination.
Yet in England we have only had two female prime ministers. Before and after have been male. Some great, more recently dreadful.
There is also a distinct difference between Labour and Tory Women Ministers. Strong Labour Women such as Yvette Cooper, Lisa Nandy, Rachel Reeves, Emily Thornbury, Angela Rayner, Anneliese Dodds, Shabana Mahmoud, Bridget Phillipson, Rosena Allin -Khan, Lucy Powell, Preet Kaur, Louise Haigh, Jenny Chapman, Thangam Debbinaire and Angela Smith. A Great team who are around and get involved.
I was fortunate to meet them all at the September 2021 Labour Conference,
When I look at the Tory Ministers, they do have a slightly different view of life. Just looking and listening to Pritti Patel, Liz Truss, Anna-Marie Trevelyan, Therese Coffey, Baroness Evans, Nadine Dorries, Suella Braverman, and Michele Donelan ….is to hear a completely different attitude, behaviour and speech.
Of course, it was Mr Cummings who chose the Ministers as Mr Johnson wanted to appear as bright, intelligent and good, according to the i newspaper in December 2019.
So no surprises there.
In my job, I was used to picking up very quickly who was who among the 11-18 year olds I taught …the diligent, the amusing, the intelligent, the honest and the kind. Most were a pleasure to work with.
And of course I could pick up the opposites, which was very useful too.
During my last job, I was invited to Number 10 to meet with 30 other ‘outstanding secondary heads’ (mostly men) and Cameron plus Gove. I was also invited to Highgrove with Prince Charles and also invited to Buckingham Palace as a reward for the many thousands of students I had helped educate.
In my three leadership roles I always aimed to bring more women into senior posts. Many went onto Headships…around 12. Not so sure if now there are folk to encourage and support women.
I enjoyed the 60 hour weeks, still remember some great students such as Rebecca Front, actor in The Thick of it, Lewis and much more and also a writer; and other alumni from my London schools such as actor Joan Simms actor, writer Nina Bawden and singers Pixie Lott and Keisha White.