On Friday morning I had a badge delivered from @OxfordHistory ‘History is Herstory too’.
It got me thinking, how much of our curriculum time is dedicated to women? My school did celebrate #InternationalWomensDay, by displaying some women on a board, but is that enough?
In my subject, History, some women have been dropped from its GCSE specification, we now look at, at most three women across our topics. Florence Nightingale, a quick glimpse at Rosalind Franklin; who, as a woman in STEM deserves more than she gets and Rosa Luxemburg. So, a nurse, a scientist and a revolutionary who met a grim end. At Key Stage Three I can count the amount of women we do on one hand. It’s just not good enough, how can we #PressforProgress as we are being encouraged to do when our students are so uninformed?
With the bit between my teeth I checked in with English. @Drinkwater76 and @MissSimpsonWCS informed me that out of 49 options at GCSE for the novels and poetry, 13 of those options are female, and to my knowledge only one is from the LGBTQ community. Again, how can we #PressforProgress when we do not expose this generation to a healthy balance of female and male role models?
So what can we do? For me it’s about exposure on the ground and on a national level. So I started small. My classroom is dominated by a ‘Herstory’ display.
I gave my students the task of finding women in History. To my delight, they came back with, not only women but, women representing all corners of life, including #BAMEd #LGBTEd #DisabilityEd and STEM. Luckily, I can do this in my subject, branch out and teach the obscure. But, we can’t necessarily do the same in other subjects.
So how do we get more inspirational women into the curriculum? I am in talks with someone in the English department about the next International Woman’s Day, a cross curricular project is in the works already. I am going to add more women into the Key Stage 3 scheme of work, and continue to push at Key Stage 4. So far; I have completed work on suffragettes, Edith Cavell, Mary Seacole and my PGCE is soon to do a project on Joan of Arc and the Wars of the Roses. Both feature some very inspiring women as well as men. Some would say I’m going too far and that I am discounting those great men too. However, in topics that are so dominated by men I believe that balance is needed if we are going to make any progress.
But, is this still enough? There was lots happening over the weekend for International Women’s Day and #WomenEd are running LeadMeets and sessions in conjunction with this. Reflect on your subject. Can enough of us make a change within our school, that we can take this to the next level? Do inspirational women have exposure in your area? How can you get more of them into your scheme of works? Do you already have this? I’d love to know if you do! All good teaching is stealing isn’t it?
So today, I have worn my ‘Herstory’ badge with pride and will continue to do so. I pledge to embed more women into the curriculum and #PressforProgress within my classroom. What about you?