Maybe you’ve noticed, maybe you haven’t, but recently a lot of initiatives that aim to raise awareness of gender equality, and to celebrate women have been popping up. I’m excited by this, and to show my support I’m hosting my first ever guest post, from Claire Venables. Claire has been in ELT since 2001. After a decade in Europe she moved to Brazil where she is involved in the creation of EFL programmes for young learners and training for teachers. She is also a founding member of the Voices SIG, which promotes gender equality and career development for women in ELT. Her guest post is below:
Recently CUP released survey results for the question “Who would you invite for dinner?” These were the results:
Now, while I agree that a night out with any of these people would be fascinating, I am surprised that only 1 of the 5 people in this lineup is a woman. Once again, we have to ask the question, ‘Where are the women in ELT?‘ Why don’t they come to our minds when we are asked questions like these? We can — and we must — do better than this at keeping women’s profiles as visible as the men’s.
I’ve been able to come up with my own top 5 list of recent initiatives which celebrate and support women in ELT!
The Fair List began in 2012. Since then, they have been celebrating the achievement of gender balance in plenary speakers, presenters or speaker panels at ELT events in the UK. The website also offers a range of resources for women, such as mentoring, videos and tips for women wanting to become speakers.
In 2015, English Australia started an initiative called ‘The Women in Leadership’, as a way to encourage discussion about women who work in leadership roles in the ELICOS (Australia’s English Language Intensive Courses for Overseas Students) sector. The program has continued to grow and this year they are offering another round of webinars with influential female leaders from the area. On their website, you’ll find slides, recordings and interviews from previous events, on topics like personal branding, work-life balance, and assertive communication. There is also an opportunity to become a speaker at one of their events, so what are you waiting for?
The Women in ELT facebook group was started in December of 2016. In just a few months this closed women’s group has gained over 800 members. It was started with the objective of offering a space where women can feel comfortable to share, support and exchange ideas and opinions with each other. If this sounds like a group that you’d like to participate in, you can find them here.
Voices SIG, which is part of Brazil’s English teachers’ association BRAZ-TESOL, was launched on April 1st of this year. It’s the first Special Interest Group promoting gender equality in ELT and, in a country where violence and discrimination against women is so high, this is a big step in the right direction. The group works to provide opportunities, training and networking to help women develop their careers in any direction they choose. If you would like to join them or even start your own local SIG, you can contact them via their facebook page.
Coming up in May this year, there will be a mini-conference where Nicola Prentis will give a talk which looks like a first in ELT. It maps the history of the industry from the point of view of the women who shaped it. The event is called ‘Celebrating Women in ELT: Reflect, empower, act’ and is on May 5th, the day before Innovate ELT in Barcelona. Places are limited, tickets cost 60€ and include a discount on the main conference entry. Follow the links for more information and how to buy.
The contribution that women have made, and continue to make, to ELT is something we can all celebrate. I hope more initiatives like these ones appear and inspire the next wave of women in ELT to take that jump and change their own futures and the future of our industry.