A significant press for progress is seen in the education sector worldwide

 August 17, 2018

IWD Best Practice Winners

Around the world, more than ever before, educational institutions stepped up efforts to celebrate International Women's Day and help highlight the need for gender parity. Future generations of leaders were inspired by the need for diversity, while academic and business communities rallied together not only to celebrate the achievements of women, but to adopt  tangible action to impact change.

Significant best practice activity from the education sector

A number of leading institutions demonstrated best practice as they delivered impressive #PressforProgress activity for International Women's Day:

Congratulations to these leading groups for their commitment, tenacity and innovation. Read the whole article or jump to specific entities using the weblinks above.

Northern Schools Trust made a significant impact on students

NorthernSchoolsTrust GENDER
International Women's Day provided the perfect opportunity for students to learn about gender issues and challenge stereotypes.

The Northern Schools Trust, a group of five academies located in the North West of England that helps positively shape the lives of young people and transforms the communities where they live, celebrated International Women’s Day with an impressive programme of events that encouraged students, faculty and guests from across the school to #PressforProgress as they addressed the under-representation of women in the fields of science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM).

High-profile female speakers from diverse backgrounds addressed the students, providing fascinating insights into STEM careers and how to break through into prospective sectors. A range of IWD activities based around key sectors including health, science, history and creative supported the #PressforProgress campaign theme.

Challenging inaccurate stereotypes and limited perceptions about working in STEM was also on the agenda. Northern Schools Trust wanted to raise awareness among youth about the importance of gender parity and reinforce the need to collectively help celebrate achievements to raise each other up.

NorthernSchoolsTrust IWD
VIDEO: Northern Schools Trust made an impresisve #PresaforProgress video featuring staff and students in the call to action.

Ahead of their event, they produced promotional #PressforProgress videos featuring staff and students, and they posted the videos across the school's various social media channels. During the event, students were asked to pose with IWD branded selfie frames. The IWD logo was used to brand each stall, individual activity and break-out session.

International Women's Day - Northern Schools Trust - STEM
Students participated in a range of International Women's Day activities including using distortion goggles alongside further STEM activities.

Students willingly participated in break-out activities, including voting for their favourite inspirational figure at a polling station booth. They enjoyed the challenge of using distortion goggles, they attended an engaging midwifery session, and they accessed a science station introducing students to the wonders of daphnia biology using digital microscopes. Participants also interacted with a timeline featuring significant female role models throughout history. The topic of wellbeing also played a big part in the day and the school invited mindfulness coach, Nicola Forshaw, to facilitate a group mediation session to a room of 200 students.

The impressive activities weren’t even held back by the onslaught of snow that threatened to scupper the event, with dedicated and passionate staff moving the venue at the very last minute. Amazing efforts all round!

PressforProgress men in education
Male colleagues understand their responsibilty in helping forge gender parity beyond International Women's Day. 

Glasgow Caledonian University pressed for progress celebrating a 40 per cent female professoriate

Glasgow Caledonian University - women
Staff and students at Glasgow Caledonian University celebrated that 40 per cent of its professors are female.

Meanwhile, Glasgow Caledonian University (GCU) in Scotland supported the global call to action to #PressforProgress as they raised awareness at both an institutional and external level. Furthermore, the University sought to highlight their impressive work and commitment in forging gender parity - so on International Women's Day they celebrated the fact that 40 per cent of GCU's professoriate are women - and the University is committed even further to reducing this gap in coming years.

The University featured an engaging news article on their external-facing website and internal intranet. They also created two promotional videos that were amplified across social media channels and they commissioned a special commemorative photograph.

VIDEO: GCU celebrated International Women's Day 2018 with its female professoriate

As an institution looking to break the glass ceiling for female academics and students, GCU really wanted to highlight the positive work they we were doing in forging equality, and they wanted to tell their stories on this momentous day.

University of Auckland Business School engaged their audiences to #PressforProgress

University of Auckland - IWD
University of Auckland Business School rallied its employees to show unity for International Women's Day.

Across the world, the University of Auckland Business School in New Zealand departments collaborated to market and deliver a suite of impressive International Women's Day events as they joined the call to #PressforProgress. The Business School wanted to leave their audience of students, alumni, staff and the wider business community with inspiration to take action and #PressforProgress, and they also wanted to showcase their talented women.

A highlight of the activity at the University of Auckland Business School was a public lecture by Tom Peters, distinguished Adjunct Professor of the University of Auckland Business School and an internationally renowned business guru, who advocated for more widespread female leadership. Further speakers from industry inspired the audience, while activity closed with a highly popular and over-subscribed viewing of the documentary 'Dream, Girl' that shared the stories of successful female entrepreneurs. The Business School was adorned with International Women's Day branding including slide presentations appearing on the giant screen in their main foyer.

UniversityAuckland - Godfrey
Dean of the University of Auckland Business School, Jayne Godfrey, is a firm advocate of gender equality.

The Business School's community was also encouraged to customise their social media profiles via resources provided for International Women's Day and show their support to #PressforProgress. Dean of the Business School, Jayne Godfrey led the charge.

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Social media resources were provided to staff and students to support their #PressforProgress activity.

Wenona School spurred on its students to expect - and forge - a gender equal world

Wenona School is an independent, non-denominational day and boarding school for 1,100 girls, located in Sydney, Australia. Within the school, one of their community service groups - the Gender Equity Group - was charged with spreading positive messages about female empowerment for International Women’s Day and promoting the campaign theme of #PressforProgress throughout the week. Students and staff discussed many gender-related issues, including the gender pay gap and domestic violence in order to educate the girls and raise awareness about these concepts. 

The students at Wenona organised a huge variety of activities to promote the messages of International Women’s Day. This included choosing the colour of the ribbons they wore in their hair, through to the bake sale and barbeque lunch where, in order to challenge stereotypes, the male teachers baked the cakes and the female teachers operated the barbeque, finishing up with an impressive concert of students singing songs by inspirational female artists such as Beyoncé and Alicia Keys.

Wenona IWD
Wenona School hosted a range of impressive activities that educated students about the need for greater gender equality and inspired them to #PressforProgress.

"These activities all exhibited our collective fight for gender equity as we spread the word and inspired the next generation. Our Gender Equity Group’s aim was to inspire every single girl at our school to take on this fight and #PressforProgress," commented Community and Service Learning Prefect, student Rebecca Karnani.

"We took the issues facing women and spread awareness about them to the girls who are going to be our next generation of leaders ... We spread our message to over 1,100 girls and teachers, helping to inspire them to fight for gender parity. We raised over $1,300 for the White Ribbon Foundation, a huge achievement for a fairly small Gender Equity Group. The day was completely planned by students who are passionate about gender equality and determined to drive change. We brought together girls from across the school to celebrate the power of women, which is the true essence of International Women’s Day," explained Rebecca.

"Our Gender Equity Group aims to continue to spread awareness and help women all around the world, keeping the spirit of International Women’s Day alive within Wenona. Throughout our celebrations, we continuously used the #PressforProgress campaign theme to communicate the key messages of International Women’s Day to the girls. We took the time during the Assembly to explain both the history of International Women’s Day and what #PressforProgress means. By doing this we were able to provoke the girls to think about the ways they could spread the messages of International Women’s Day and how they could #PressforProgress in everyday life."

Wenona women Sydney
Wenona School students used songs from inspirational women to get their messages of equality across to fellow students.

University of Sheffield inspires women to press for progress

A leader in forging gender diversity within the academic sector, for International Women’s Day 2018 the University of Sheffield in the United Kingdom created a video to celebrate the achievements of their women staff and students. The video shares the stories of diverse women staff and students in different roles and at different stages of their career - all smashing glass ceilings in male-dominated sectors. 

The idea was to highlight the challenges women face, and to inspire and motivate further women to aim high and never be held back because of their gender. The video shows in very concrete and explicit ways how the University's women staff and students, and the University as a whole, are making gains and pushing for progress to further gender equality.

A wide range of women were featured in the video: the Provost and Deputy Vice-Chancellor and Director of Finance leading the way for women in leadership, women academics challenging stereotypes in STEMM (science, technology, engineering, medicine and mathematics), students engaged about in rugby and coding, and the Students’ Union Women’s Officer campaigning on issues affecting women. Each woman featured  in the video highlighted the passion for their job, sector or activity - and reinforced their commitment to inclusivity and gender parity in the face of challenges. 

The video was shared across the University's social media channels, supporting the International Women's Day #PressforProgress campaign. It attracted a huge number of views and positive comments, successfully highighting the women of the University and inspiring staff and students to keep pressing for progress to achieve gender equality. 

VIDEO: A powerful International Women's Day video from the University of Sheffield supported women's press for progress.

Furthermore, to celebrate International Women's Day, the University of Sheffield's Women's Network, Women@TUoS, hosted a joint event with Sheffield Hallam University chaired by Professor Gill Valentine, Provost and Deputy Vice-Chancellor, followed by a networking lunch. Inspirational women from a range of industries were invited to speak about how they had been involved in pressing for progress for gender equality, the challenges they had faced, how they overcame them and what, in their view, still needs to be done to make change happen.

Further impressive activity for International Women's Day from the University included their support for the Sheffield SheFest IWD Fringe Festival., including key academics from the institution leading talks on women's stories of cancer on screen, gender socialisation of children in Ghanaian communities, and the strength, functionality and capability of women’s bodies.

IWD shefest Sheffield
Sheffield's fringe festival, supported by the University of Sheffield, celebrates International Women's Day.

Sheffield Shefest IWD event

University of Glasgow’s Institute of Biodiversity, Animal Health and Comparative Medicine celebrated women in STEM and called for greater action

VIDEO: University of Glasgow’s Institute of Biodiversity, Animal Health and Comparative Medicine championed action encouraging staff and students to #PressforProgress

There was an exciting array of activity from the University of Glasgow’s Institute of Biodiversity, Animal Health and Comparative Medicine for International Women’s Day 2018.

The University understands there are still significant challenges to achieving gender parity in STEM departments in Higher Education - and they are committed to tackling barriers women face in academia by challenging stereotypes and increasing the visibility of women in STEM.

The University knows that to do this, they need all genders to commit to action. Their IWD event aimed to bring together staff/students from all facets of their institute - from all genders, grades and roles - to celebrate the women in STEM in their department, and they encouraged everyone to make a pledge to #PressforProgress. Professor Sarah Cleaveland OBE, one of their scientists, gave an honest and inspiring address about the barriers she had faced, her achievements, role models and she also highlighted general global challenges still faced by women.

University of Glasgow IBAHCM
Staff and students at University of Glasgow rallied together to pledge to continue their #PressforProgress for women's equality.

Wall of Celebration applaudes women 

To champion IWD2018 in a meaningful way, they created a "Wall of Celebration" that featured large posters of the women’s faces within their Institute and displayed in the foyer.

A short promotional IWD2018 video featuring female staff was developed and played throughout the day on various monitors across the department. They also held a special “Coffee in the Museum Event” in their Zoology museum where staff and students made their #PressforProgress pledges, with many of these photographed for social media use. The event and pledging were captured on video and made widely available to the public online and via social media.

Inspiring indeed for all involved!

University of Glasgow - IWD
Professor Sarah Cleaveland OBE‚Äč gave an inspiring address at the University of Glagow's 'IWD Coffee in the Museum' event.
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