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International Women's Day 2023

Today (8 March) is International Women’s Day, an annual global event celebrating the economic, cultural, social and political achievements of women.

The day also marks a call to action for accelerating gender parity, with the theme in 2023 #EmbraceEquity.

ISQ approached some of its member schools to ask staff their thoughts on what the theme means to them.

Teacher, Australian Industry Trade College

Ruth Maclean

“At AITC we are aware that many of our young women have started from a place where a pathway in industry was not promoted to them."

 “For our young women we see no barriers, only opportunities for them to excel in whatever field they choose to follow. In Year 10 we challenge our young women to think progressively and act courageously to find their path by exposing them to a wide range of industries. In year 11 and 12 we work alongside them and industry to find fulfilling roles with organisations that are passionate about developing their expertise. “

Teacher, Fraser Coast Anglican College

Merilyn Westrop

"I am proud to be part of an industry that has traditionally displayed equality towards women. As teachers, we model and embrace inclusiveness and equity in our daily interactions with the students we teach. We play a vital role in shaping our students’ perspectives on the world as we teach and mentor them through to adulthood.  

Growing up I learned that my mother and many of her generation had to work when they got married. It was expected, particularly in a small town. When I finished Year 12,  there was still that sense of encouragement towards careers such as nursing, teaching, or other stereotypical roles. But to me, that didn’t matter as I had always had a passion towards teaching since I was a very young age! 

As a teacher, I inevitably influence the students’ values and beliefs, and by providing strong and supportive leadership I guide and instil values of women’s equality within the younger generations coming through our classrooms. It is wonderful to see our students grow throughout their schooling years to become independent thinkers, and particularly for our female students, to see them planning a future without limitations on their careers or ambitions and with confidence to find their place in the world. 

I am privileged to work within a school that supports and promotes female teachers to leadership positions. This sends a positive and strong message to both our students and those female teachers who wish to advance in their teaching career. 

Director of Boarding, The Rockhampton Grammar School

Donna Grant

“Whether it is supporting students who are geographically isolated from their loved ones, building relationships across cohorts so quality connections can be made throughout the student body regardless of age, gender or background, or simply having empathy and understanding for those that have challenges in accessing opportunities for any reason,” Ms Grant said.

“This year’s International Women's Day theme resonates with our Boarding community as we encourage everyone to Embrace Equity.  Our co-educational multi age setting provides a great space for robust conversations about how equality is not enough as some people need a little bit more support to have a chance to succeed in their desired pathways - Not all people start in the same position, so an authentic inclusive experience will require equitable action. While this message is the focus for International Women's Day 2023, it is a goal every day for all of us to aspire to.”

Teacher, Fraser Coast Anglican College

Lucy Mudge

International Women’s Day 2023! History writes that the path to women’s equality has been long and challenging with many stages – from activism, to feminism, to ‘fix the women’, to ‘fix the organisation’, to ‘men as allies’, to the now. The now feels like the world expects equity.

What a significant difference in attitudes! And, what an exciting time it is to be a female teacher! It is so powerful for young girls to hear our own education stories, know we are just as qualified as our male counterparts, and see us raise our own children while working. Above all, we have the privilege of giving hope to students that there is no glass ceiling for females. As Michelle Obama once stated,

““There is no limit to what we, as women, can accomplish”.

Head of Science, Fraser Coast Anglican College

Lisa Jamieson

Equity is important because a gender gap still exists in STEM industries.  Women only make up 36% of STEM university course students, 27% of the STEM workforce, and only 23% of senior management in STEM industries.

As a science teacher, I believe that to achieve equal opportunity in STEM we need to start to address it at school and it begins with increasing girls’ confidence in their ability to excel in STEM careers. We must inspire our female students with female role models and that is where teachers can play a pivotal.

Principal, YMCA Vocational School

Rella Taylor-Byrne

Organisations that don’t implement diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) practices miss out on opportunities to tap into their peoples’ potential. Research shows that organisations with strong DEI initiatives are more innovative, have higher staff engagement and trust, make better decisions, and achieve greater strategic outcomes. At the Y, we value the diversity of people, communities and nations and equality of opportunity and justice for all people.

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