Challenging attitudes, reaching potential
International Women's Day Conference, 8th March, 2019
On Friday 8th March we welcomed Penwortham Girls' High School, St Peter's Primary School, Lytham Church of England Primary School and Rossall 6th Form students, as well as members of our Junior School to participate in our International Women's Day Conference hosted in the Senior School, in partnership with the Fylde Soroptimists. The conference brought to life this year’s theme #BalanceforBetter, with external speakers, insight and an exploration of the themes to engage both boys and girls.
The speakers were Rosie Drummer, a qualified architect and the first female helicopter pilot in the British Army who's now carved out a new career as one of the UK's best cake designers. We were also delighted to welcome Christopher Green (OBE), the Executive Director of the White Ribbon Campaign (UK) and recipient of the 'Ultimate Man of the Year' award from Cosmopolitan magazine in 2007. More latterly he was appointed Officer of the Order of the British Empire (OBE) in the New Year Honours list for services to equality.
Rosie opened the day with stories of flying the Lynx helicopter and how it took her time to build the confidence to stand up for what she believed in. She spoke about how life is about 'constant change', but how that change provides room for growth and development; she encouraged the students to 'care less' and about how failure is a precursor to learning. She also told personal stories about making her children's birthday cakes before she became a professional cake maker and how it was due to hard work and dedication that she had gained the success she had.
The students asked thought-provoking questions, such as, "How do you cope with challenge?", to which she answered, "I tell myself that I'm going to do it one way or another, I'll find a way"; and "What are you most proud of?", her answer, "Completing the flying course, in spite of there being senior people who didn't want me to succeed".
In response to the students’ interest in how she learnt to bake, she recommended anyone who wants to try baking to start by baking a 'pound cake', which was the type of cake she first made with her mother. She also suggested looking at her YouTube videos @RosieCakeDiva, where she shows simple recipes for those who may lack experience. Her message was clear: be confident, challenge yourself and don't be afraid of failure!
Our second speaker, Christopher Green, OBE took to the stage. Chris continued the theme of gender stereotyping in jobs, the role of the media and how learnt behaviours contribute to 'toxic masculinity'. He talked about the importance of influence in creating the multiplier effect across organisations in raising awareness and gaining support for the White Ribbon Campaign which he started in the UK 15 years ago to end violence towards women.
After both keynote speakers, pupils divided into small discussion groups. The sessions were based around gender equality, encouraging pupils to discuss whether a focus on equality is necessary, and if so, how it can be achieved. Some of the discussions revolved around pay differences, gender stereotypes, media influences, pressures placed on how you should behave and effects on mental health. Emma Watson’s, speech to the UN congress was the stimulus to get the discussions going: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Q0Dg226G2Z8
One of the highlights of the day was the performances from our Year 10 drama GCSE students who had produced several humorous sketches, conveying deeper messages regarding gender equality. Many thanks to Miss Worthington for her support and direction.
Thank you to Hiliary Douglas Brown and the Fylde Soroptimist’s Charity for sponsoring this event, to the AKS Young Soroptimists and student leaders from all age groups and most of all, our Year 12 students for their help in organising the conference and facilitating sessions. Finally, many thanks to the staff who brought their year groups to the conference and who participated. We look forward to more in the future!