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Aspiring female leaders in Queensland independent schools will this week break down gendered stereotypes of leaders and challenge their own perceptions and expectations during a masterclass hosted by Independent Schools Queensland (ISQ).

Despite women comprising more than 70 percent of Australia’s teaching workforce, they only occupy about 50 percent of principal positions, according to school data.

Respected Australian author, leadership researcher and professional learning facilitator Dr Barbara Watterston will lead the ISQ Women in Leadership Masterclass for about 60 emerging and current female independent school leaders in Brisbane on Friday 23 April.

ISQ Executive Director David Robertson said ISQ provided a range of inclusive professional learning opportunities to advance the leadership skills and capabilities of existing, new and aspiring leaders in the independent sector.

“The calibre of female and male leaders in the independent sector is of the highest order with these inspiring and dedicated educators being important role models and mentors to the next generation of school leaders,” he said.

Dr Watterston said the predominant image that emerged from google searches on leaders, including principals, frequently profiled a masculine perspective of leadership.

“It’s what we see constantly. There’s a bias in the normative messages we receive about what leaders look like. Unconscious bias is something to consider when we think about why are there barriers and why don’t we diversify and think about multiple faces of leadership?” she said during a recent interview aired on ISQ’s School Bell podcast.

“Greater diversity of leadership ensures higher productivity, innovation, better outcomes and better decision-making.”

“Schools don’t become high performing in the absence of great leadership. They need all the great leaders they can get — yet, in a female-dominated workforce, women remain underrepresented in senior educational leadership positions. Robust leadership takes a proactive and inclusive approach to developing leadership talent.”

Dr Watterston has undertaken extensive research on school and system leadership and more recently unpacked how successful female leaders have overcome external and internal barriers to occupy decision-making roles in schools.

She is the co-author of Step In, Step Up – Empowering Women for the School Leadership Journey with Dr Jane Kise. All participants at the ISQ masterclass will receive a copy of the book.

During the masterclass Dr Watterston will present the latest research on gendered leadership and discuss how women can work through barriers and mindset blocks. She will also challenge independent school female leaders and aspiring leaders to reflect on their own professional and personal qualities and strengths as well as
areas for development.

“The message behind all of this, for all of us, men and women .. is to create your own unique perspective of leadership that works for you, that is authentic for you and allows your strengths to flourish, but equally knowing where your challenges are and having those guides on the side and other key mentors to support you in that role,” she said.

“Create your why. ‘Why is it that you want to be a leader?’ It may be hearing those stories of other people and how they addressed a negative situation and how they turned that around for themselves .. it’s continually about sharpening the saw .. it’s ongoing development.”

The full interview with Dr Watterston can be heard on the latest episode of ISQ’s School Bell podcast.

Media Contact

Justine Nolan
0428 612 315 |

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