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Women? Who Inspires Us?

March 1st 2020, starts the month off celebrating Women's History Month and by jammie dodgers, there have been a fair few!

Just looking at some of the hosts of women in the picture, just shows how amazing the female of the species can be.

In this months blog both Liz and Gemma are talking about their female inspirations and the impact they have had on their own lives to be the people they are today.

It's only as you roll towards half a century (yep, that Aldi face cream works wonders!) that you begin to reflect more on what has gone by and get excited about what the future holds. Only recently on a gin fuelled afternoon, with my sister and mum, we had a discussion about the strong female influences we've had around us during our early and adolescent years. From my Great Grandma Morvil, who always looked particularly stern in family photographs, who had a strong Victorian stance and lived by strong morals; to both my Grandma's who even though very different in personality had overcome life's challenges to be prominent characters in our family.

All the attributes of these women have in someway moulded my sister and I, but not forgetting our mum who has an amazing ability to pull the family together. Even now we have tea every Wednesday (all 8 of us) at our parents, touching base, reconnecting and highlighting to me the importance of family.

From my teenage years to date I have often been drawn to leading women who have impacted on business, historical events and made changes in what has been a predominately male dominated world, and no I'm not a Women's Lib Activist, I just appreciate and am inspired by the strength, persistence and resilience of some women to make change for the better.

My first inspiration was whilst I was at high school and college. I saved my weekly wage (£10 working in Timpson's Shoe Shop) to treat myself to Body Shop products. It was here I read about Anita Roddick, a British businesswoman, human rights activist and environmental campaigner. From her initial idea and first shop in 1976 to the changes in thinking she created within the political and business world are not to be underestimated.

"If you think you're too small to have an impact, try going to bed with a mosquito."

This really resonates with me and the journey Gemma and I are on with

Grow Your Mindset and our vision of changing the focus in education.

I'm also a sucker for real life stories and often scroll through the endless films on Sky looking for that story with an underlying message. A journey of defiance and a passion for what it right. I think this month in particular, the following two films are a must for this reason.

Hidden Figures is an inspirational, historical drama about three African-American women whose work at NASA was instrumental in putting John Glenn into orbit. The prejudices they faced daily during the civil rights movement brought these three women together. As mathematicians and engineers working in the segregated South this makes their story even more remarkable.

Erin Brockovich, a single mother who sought justice against the Pacific Gas and Electric Company who she accused of poisoning a city's water supply. Again, a woman who had the courage and stood up for what she believed in, at a time (1993) when whistle blowing was relatively unknown, yet she overcame adversity, achieving success against the odds.

"Life is full of challenges. How you handle these challenges is what builds character. Never be afraid to be who you are.." Erin Brockovich

And now it's over to Gemma.....

Gemma has written before in a previous blog about people who have inspired her and many of them are in the world of education. "I find passionate women in education such a pleasure to be around, it gets me all giddy!"

Here's a little reminder of what she wrote.

First off is Jaz Ampaw-Farr, a teacher by trade, who now travels the world delivering the most heart warming, goosebump-tingling and shocking talks. Crying with laughter and with sadness in the space of 30 minutes, this woman has been on the most incredible journey. I'm not going to spoil what Jaz has to offer, but if you take a look at anything, watch her in this TED talk from 2017.

Watching Jaz at a recent Mental Health conference, reminded me of how important the work we do, as teachers, is. "We aren't just teachers," she says, "We are everyday heroes."

When you listen to Jaz's amazing story, her upbringing, her unusual family dynamics and the experiences she had growing up, you can only imagine what she went through everyday as a child. The back story, doesn't match the lady you see in front of you.

Her success and determination to support and inspire others is infectious. She has not let her past hold her back, but it has allowed her to propel positively into people's lives, allowing her to connect on a level we can engage with and if anyone can get on the London Underground dressed as a banana, it'll be Jaz!

Second on my list is Karen Bramwell. The CEO for the Forward As One Multi Academy trust.

I've actually known Karen for along time, but it was only recently when I had the chance to do a podcast with Classroom Secrets, that I realised what an impact she had on me. Myself and Liz actually got to chat with her properly at an awards ceremony this year, where we had been made finalists, The Inspire Women awards for education and Karen was there for her work in leadership. She won. As I mentioned already, I've known Karen for a while. I did my outstanding teaching training with her school, she also introduced me to Kagan collaborative learning structures and my Middle Leadership certificate was carried out at Karen's school, so she's always been there on the sidelines.

At the awards ceremony, we were actually sat on Karen's table, which was lovely and just managed to get chatting with her. What is really clear from Karen is her passion for education, her eyes sparkle when you talk about the work she does and you can tell that she absolutely loves her staff. When we were looking around the table, you couldn't tell which one was the CEO because she embraced everybody who was part of her school. No pecking order.

All these women make me reflect on myself as a professional in the line of education. How I interact with people, the things I say when I'm with them, the way I operate behind the scenes.

But more importantly, don't forget to give thanks to all those women who sparkle quietly in the background. My mum, my daughter (not yet a women, but getting there quickly), my sister in-law, Chrissy, my friends who I have known since high school and would become the 'Spice Girls' on a Saturday night and of course Liz, my partner in all things mindset! All you guys deserve a standing ovation because quite honestly, without you, the love and support you give, I wouldn't be where I am today. Happy Women's History Month! Mwah!

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