Today I had the privilege of attending the Alliance of Girls’ Schools’ International Women’s Day Breakfast with four students from across Senior School. We not only had the opportunity to hear Lord Mayor Sally Capp and Georgie Crozier MP speak, but also enjoyed the opportunity to speak with students and staff from other girls’ schools around Melbourne. It was an inspiring event and afterwards, each Lowther Hall student was able to identify a key story or anecdote which they had found insightful or interesting. I was struck by the findings shared by Sally Capp, that when in groups dominated by males, girls speak 75% less. Of course, at a school for girls, our students develop confidence in using their voice, so that in the post school world, they can speak up in whatever spaces they find themselves. It was also interesting to hear Sally reflect on her own experiences as a young, graduate lawyer, where she had been confused as to why she was not progressing in her career despite a great deal of positive feedback about her performance. Eventually she came to understand that she needed to advocate for herself, and things started to change. Again, as the principal of a girls school, I am delighted when I see girls step into the space of asking for things. Just this week, I have received two proposals from students about new initiatives they would like to introduce or new programs they would like considered. Often, girls advocate through the various student councils and committees that we have, but sometimes they simply make a time to meet with me or another member of staff, and put forward their case. As we prepare to celebrate International Women’s Day next week on March 8, I certainly feel that within a broader context where there is still more to be done in breaking gender bias, here in our Lowther Hall community, there is much to rejoice about!
Ms Elisabeth Rhodes