This Sunday we will celebrate Mother’s Day. In honour of this day, I’d also like to acknowledge Girls Grammar’s mothers, grandmothers and honorary mothers. Thank you for role modelling to the girls how to be strong. Thank you for believing in them, encouraging them, making them persevere, showing pride in them and nurturing their self-belief. Thank you for teaching them that things don’t always work out but that they will survive and thrive nonetheless. The girls are blessed to have intelligent, courageous women in their lives to inspire them, guide them, love them and lead them.
Developmentally, girls need to see confidence, leadership and achievement in other girls and women to see themselves with those qualities. Put simply, “A girl can’t be what she can’t see”. Strong female role models show girls how to unearth their talents, find their voice and courageously pursue their own path.
This also highlights why the choice of a girls’ school is so valuable for girls’ development. Girls’ schools provide visible access to strong, capable girls and women in addition to their mothers, sisters, grandmothers and family members. Research findings indicate that girls who attend a single-sex school show greater confidence, are more competitive and assertive, demonstrate stronger study habits, are more involved in volunteer work, are more aspirational and are more likely to participate in male dominated fields.
This is because girls’ schools specialise in girls. They tailor every aspect of teaching and learning to girls, to developing their self-efficacy, growing their leadership potential and empowering them with the skills and confidence to learn, experiment and grow.
Girls’ schools also disrupt gender biases and beliefs, particularly in traditionally male-dominated industries. A 2018 study by Microsoft found that girls were more likely to consider careers in science, technology, engineering or mathematics if they had a role model who inspired them. The study found that girls with a strong STEM role model were more likely to see themselves as high performers across the range of STEM subjects, but most notably in mathematics (https://news.microsoft.com/en-gb/2018/04/25/62509/ ). Other studies have also shown this connection, as well as a correlation between role models and women in leadership.
For further evidence, we need look no further than our Old Girls. Girls Grammar has many incredible Old Girls from whom our current students can gain inspiration. For example, 1995 alumni Elizabeth Suelip became the fifth female judge in PNG when she was sworn-in as an acting judge for 12 months at Government House (February 2020). 2015 alumni Camille Trail is forging a successful career as a musician. Her song “Devil’s Drink” hit number 18 on the Country iTunes Charts (March 2020). 1991 Alumni Carol Godwin was appointed AnglicareCQ CEO in March 2020.
In addition to inspirational Old Girls, Girls Grammar students are blessed with role models they see every day who inspire, empower and encourage. Our prefects are confident, warm, strong individuals who advocate respectfully for themselves and their peers. They lead by example, collaborating to coordinate, promote and manage whole-school events. They communicate with, engage and inspire younger girls and they represent themselves and their school honourably.
Our staff’s commitment to student wellbeing and attainment of opportunities and outcomes for every single girl makes them excellent role models. Our staff build relationships with the girls, encourage them to challenge gender stereotypes, to pursue careers and activities they may not have otherwise considered, to advocate for themselves and to connect with possibilities previously unimagined.
Girls’ schools play a vital role in supporting families to ensure that girls are given every opportunity. I thank all our Old Girls, staff, students, parents/carers and volunteers who, by their everyday examples, interactions and role modelling, encourage our girls to dream big and be the best they can be.
Mrs Deanne Johnston