PUBLISHED 10 March 2022
As part of our International Women's Day 2022 celebrations, Mrs Ilhan, Head of AKS Nursery and Prep School was interviewed by the IWD22 Student Planning Committee:
1. What is your name and position at AKS?
My name is Mrs Ilhan, Head of Nursery and Prep School.
2. What does breaking the gender bias mean to you?
Recently, I have witnessed this positive move on the sports fields. I am delighted that the girls are playing rugby, football and cricket, and the boys are playing hockey. All children are able to play any discipline in sport, why not?
3. Who are your feminist icons/role models?
Personally, two female Head teachers were my role models when I first started off my career. They demonstrated strong, clear and safe leadership and I learnt a lot from them. They put my career on the right path.
Externally, Madeleine Albright, the first female secretary of state in U.S. history who argued that there is a place for women’s issues to be discussed in foreign policy. She talks about the importance of women in leadership positions; that she understands societies are stronger if “women are politically and economically empowered.” Women need to be supportive of other women and it is so important for us to find our voice and lead with courage and compassion.
Here is a selection of her quotes,
“We must help women in every society to have their voices heard”.
“Real leadership comes from the quiet nudging of an inner voice. It comes from realizing that the time has come to move beyond waiting to doing”.
“It took me quite a long time to develop a voice, and now that I have it, I am not going to be silent”.
“There is a special place in hell for women who don't help other women.”
“There is plenty of room in the world for mediocre men, but there is no room for mediocre women. You have to work. You have to work exceptionally hard, and you have to know what you’re talking about”.
4. Why is it important to have women in positions of authority within the education system?
When I was an international Head, I walked into an international Heads’ conference several years ago and the persons in the room were predominantly male. I am delighted to see that times have moved on and all genders are represented now. I also see a better understanding of inclusion and diversity reflected in leadership too. It is very important to me that children see all genders and
diversity role models represented in leadership positions so they can aspire to do the same and go beyond their expectations.
5. How would you encourage young girls to take on leadership roles?
I encourage girls and boys to believe in themselves from a very early age and encourage a ‘can do’ attitude, building their self-confidence. Courage, self-awareness, teamwork and communication skills are character traits that we encourage at AKS. If you believe in yourself, you can achieve anything.