Conference hears women meeting leadership test

Anna Uren
Women's Coordinator

Participants at the equity in education workshop

The Women’s Conference on August 20 addressed the many ways that women are leaders in education every day, whether in a promotions position, as a union activist, or in their classrooms.

Delegates heard from women leading various fields of education, attended workshops to build on knowledge and skills in leading positive workplace culture and practice and stood together in the call for the Department of Education to end discrimination and disadvantage in women teachers’ working conditions and entitlements.

Speakers shared stories about some of the different ways women work as educational leaders. A panel discussion introduced by Professor Jill Blackmore from Deakin University focused on how women can use the physical space in the school and classroom to lead the way in spatial pedagogies.

Professor Blackmore was joined in a discussion about challenges in leadership and strategies in overcoming those challenges by Senior Vice President Joan Lemaire, Centre for Professional Learning Director Kathy Deacon, Acting Manager Aboriginal Education and Community Engagement Natalie Pierson and Riverside Girls High School head teacher Tracey Warzecha.

Workshop topics included:

  • Raising your professional voice in the workplace
  • Accreditation at Highly Accomplished and Lead levels
  • Resolving conflict in the workplace
  • Leading the way for equity in education.

Feedback from the workshops and the conference as a whole was positive, with many saying they would recommend it to others next year. The workshops left people feeling inspired and empowered, with one delegate saying that the day, “reignited my passion for teaching, education and colleagues”.

In the final session, Conference carried a resolution calling on the Federation to continue to pursue the disadvantage for women inherent in the Interim Teacher Salary Review Procedure and the “leave simplification” proposals, and to maintain, as a priority, the commitment to the elimination of discrimination in the workplace.

Federation has been involved in ongoing negotiations and dispute on two matters with a particular impact on women. Negotiations on leave simplification have been fruitful.

As a result of the Federation’s representations the Department withdrew those changes most detrimental to women and agreed to some important safeguards.

Any changes would not be implemented until at least 2018 and look set to include some positive changes for women taking maternity leave.

There is still much work to be done on the salary review. Until recently, the Department has been extremely reluctant to enter constructive negotiations on this matter.

Nevertheless, the strength and commitment of the members to take action, as shown by those attending Women’s Conference, has helped to begin to shift the Department and meetings are now being scheduled.

Keep an eye out for information about 2017 Women’s Conference in journals early next year.