Break the bias
The Head's Study
Oh the irony. In a year when International Women’s Day (IWD) celebrates with the theme – ‘Break the Bias’ – New Zealand’s All-Blacks caused controversy with their tweet to ‘all the women in our lives that allow us to play the game we love’. I won’t repeat the outcries here; they have been well documented in the press and the tweet withdrawn as a consequence.
What a contrast, however, to the New Zealand women’s rugby team, known as the Black Ferns, who marked IWD with some of their players writing about the positive female role models in their lives. As Olympic gold medallists and world champions you would imagine that the team themselves would be held up as epitomising this year’s ‘break the bias’ theme. Yet no – the focus was on the women who have made them who they are.
I had to admit to being a little flummoxed when one of my own children asked me, on IWD, who was the woman I most admired. There are so many and yet choosing just one is so difficult, not least because of the kind of messages it sends about values and priorities.
That was why I was also so struck by the Black Ferns’ tweets. It is those closest to us who influence us most, in that day to day, communal garden way that shapes us. Whilst I can scan my bookshelf and list those women who have inspired me, particularly about breaking the bias, be that Mary Ann Sieghart in ‘The Authority Gap’ or Caroline Criado Perez in ‘Invisible Women’, it is actually family and friends – mother, sister and team players in the widest sense of the word, who have taught me the most as positive female role models. So, I stand with the Black Ferns, as I imagine you do too, this IWD in celebrating those inspirational role models closest to us who help us break the bias, starting with all the exceptional girls at this school who impress me daily with their spirit and drive.