Unsurprising at a Global Forum on Girls’ Education the focus was on gender equality. How do we as educators encourage girls to lead, to be treated as equals, to be able to access the same opportunities as the boys? It was not about being better than men, but how we could work together to ensure the daughters had the same opportunities as their sons. Billie Jean King, in the final presentation of the conference, highlighted her traction with male CEOs when she asked about their daughters, their granddaughters.
One initiative that was discussed at the conference was introduced by St Paul’s Girls’ School – Dads4Daughters. An initiative that harnesses the fathers in the school to go out and make a difference in their work place, to make the working environment more equal for girls. We know that fathers want the best for their daughters. They have invested heavily in their education, they have encouraged them to work effectively at school, cheered them on at the sports field and in the concert auditorium, but now as their daughters come to the next biggest hurdle- the work place – the question being asked is what could they do in their workplaces to enable these young women, their daughters to thrive.
Time and time again research shows that diversity makes the workplace more effective, more productive. The critical mass is 30% of women in boardrooms, as directors, in politics, in courts, in senior leadership role across all sectors. This ensures the workplace is connected to different voices and hears different perspectives on how to do things.
So this initiative asks dads to consider four questions:
Can you imagine your daughter working in your workplace?
What would you like her to achieve?
Is that possible in your workplace?
Can you imagine her as CEO, if not why not?
The initiative encourages dads to start having these conversations with their daughters within their school communities, at an event, where they can share their perspectives, talk about what they are doing and to listen to the experiences of young alumnae. It engages both daughters and their fathers in understanding the unconscious bias that exists and how it can be tackled positively, and to look at an established work culture which could prove challenging for both daughters and sons.
Dads4Daughters Day is next March – it is an initiative I would love to get behind. I know our fathers at BGS want the best for their daughters and if anything I have learned from this conference is that we all have to work together to ensure we achieve gender equality.