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Inspire Inclusion: the power of the Women in Education network at Dixons Academies Trust

Posted 7th March 2024

As statistics show, despite making up the majority of the teaching workforce, women are significantly underrepresented in leadership positions in education and the proportion of women leaving teaching between 30-39 is increasing more than any other age group. Nationally, #WomenEd aims to bridge that gap by providing support and development tailored to the unique experiences and needs of women in education. Running since 2020, our Dixons Women in Education (WiE) programme is a transformative initiative, designed for all women working in our trust, not exclusively women in leadership. We acknowledge that although it is the responsibility of all members of our community to promote inclusion, women find great benefit and power in female-only spaces.

Our WiE programme offers support and inspiration in multiple forms to suit individual preferences and life patterns. From podcasts to think pieces and workshops, we cover a wide range of topics addressing the challenges women encounter in their careers. Our ‘Inspire Workshops’ are a chance for women to come together to share their experience and explore new models for approaching work. These include topics like silencing your inner critic, stepping into your power, overcoming stereotypes, and influencing others.

I've been actively involved in the Dixons Women in Education programme, since I joined Dixons as a Trust Assistant Principal in September 2022. As both a participant and facilitator, I've witnessed first-hand the impact this programme has on fostering a more inclusive and empowering environment for women in the education sector.

What sets Dixons Academies Trust apart for me is its unwavering commitment to creating equity in the workplace. The WiE programme acknowledges that achieving gender equality is a collective responsibility, not limited to women alone. However, being part of this network of women who understand the intricacies of the female experience has been immensely valuable to me. It has not only increased my awareness of the adaptations I've had to make as a woman but also empowered me to challenge those adaptations that no longer serve me. I love that the WiE programme explores and embraces the intersectional nature of identities, all the ideas presented are based in quality research and it provides practical strategies I can try on for size. Taking time to be with other women, share experiences and explore how I can show up each day as my authentic self has been priceless for me.

Blog by Rose Hastings

Our Women in Education programme provides a network of support and opportunities to share and learn together. Read the powerful testimonies below from members of our Dixons Women in Education Network. They talk about the sense of community, support and personal and professional growth in their reflections on what being part of WiE means to them. You will hear the value of sharing individual experiences and learning from others. When we truly value difference, inclusion comes from the heart.

Milly Lynch (Vice Principal, Dixons Marchbank Primary)
It’s been enlightening to talk to different colleagues who have come from different backgrounds but have had similar experiences. It makes you feel less alone! There’s great guest speakers and the topics are useful in everyday personal and professional life. It’s a support network like no other.

Nazia Ansari (Community Liaison Officer, Dixons Mannigham Primary)
The WiE Programme has empowered me to bring my authentic self to work every day, given me the tools to deal with my work/life balance effectively and it has been a safe space for beautiful sisterhood.

Clare Waddell (Teacher of English, Dixons Brooklands Academy)
The WiE program has been both educational, fun and helped me forge connections across our trust. I have been able to meet some inspiring women from different academies who helped me to focus on my own goals; helping to empower myself and our students. I would 100% recommend this group to other women across our trust so we can ultimately unite and be a driving force into challenging gender bias and networking to have women's voices heard.

Sadeia Afzal (Assistant Principal, Dixons Sixth Form)
It was great to be part of the Women in Leadership session at our recent trust conference. I welcomed the safe space to share our experiences and explore practical guidance to help us respond in situations we might find ourselves in.