Super advice for aspiring Spider Women
Lady Hale, the spider-broached leader of the Supreme Court, has endured plenty of attention for her role in the Brexit process. Setting this political hot potato aside, I was intrigued to discover her views on the value of an all-girls education.
The first female president of the Supreme Court, Lady Hale is a grammar school girl, who has championed equality throughout her career. In 2004, when appointed Law Lord, she created a motto for her new coat of arms which translates, in Latin, as: “women are equal in everything”.
Unfortunately, the evidence suggests that in many parts of society this motto remains more aspirational, than statement of fact. As Lady Hale recently highlighted at the Association of State Girls’ Schools conference:
“The story of what’s happened to law and legal education, women and diversity in law, is a good model for all the other things you want to get your young women into – the STEM subjects and technology, computing.”
She also considered how an all-girls environment can enable young women to ‘get on’ with achieving their full potential. Reflecting on her experience at the University of Cambridge:
“I was a girly swot and there were quite a few young men who were, similarly, girly swots: they wanted to get on with their work and their lives.”
“… sometimes supervisions were invaded by the other sort of male student, who wasn’t particularly interested in doing much in the way of work, and who concentrated on trying to put the supervisor off with silly questions, and just generally not do a lot of work.”
Lady Hale did concede that: “Of course, there are some girls like that as well, but you don’t get so much.”
As Head of St Mary’s School, this resonates with me. Every day I see the advantages an all-girls environment offers. Not just in terms of academic progress or increased take up of STEM subjects, but also in the confidence and self-belief our girls gain, simply by being part of a supportive, like-minded peer group – where it is the norm to want to work hard and achieve your best.
Lady Hale concluded her conference speech with some bold advice for young women, who wish to ‘get on’:
“Don’t let the b******* grind you down.”
Whilst we may not choose these exact words to share with our students, I can wholeheartedly support the need to be aspirational and empowering.
Why all girls’