There’s No Glass Ceiling!

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Written by Henrietta Mbeah-Bankas, Executive MBA 2023 student

I grew up with this Ghanaian saying, “If you educate a man, you educate an individual but if you educate a woman, you educate a nation”.

While it signalled the importance of education, it was an exaggeration to get a focus on “female” education. As the years have gone by, I have developed a whole new appreciation for the saying – the drive to create gender equity in education.

The question is, are we anywhere near that gender equity in education – not just in Ghana, but globally? I can confidently say that, I don’t think so! Even where females can “fully” access education, there is some form of disparity in what they can access. We see all sorts of “glass ceilings” everyone; with a key one being females engaging with Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths (STEM) subjects everywhere.

I am sure you are asking, but if we’ve got the girls in school, what is stopping them from “STEM”, well check out a few of the root causes, societal stereotypes, lack of representation and role models, cultural norms and implicit bias. I am sure this is not new but I just wanted to remind us all and challenge us to take action!

If you are a senior leader in education, you can invest in your educators receiving unconscious bias training to ensure that they provide females with the attention and opportunities to pursue STEM subjects.

If you are female leader in STEM, be a mentor, visible role model and inspire others!

If you work as a leader in a STEM organisation, establish peer learning and networking opportunities for females passionate about STEM to get together and inspire each other.

There is so much to be done and everyone can contribute but for me, the biggest contributors are parents and guardians. We have the biggest job in inspiring and supporting our female children to show up in whichever area they wish especially in STEM.

Illustration by @Junchanchin on Instagram:

It all sounds obvious but why am I stating it? It’s because I am passionate about education – engaging in it, developing it, learning about it, talking about it, supporting it or delivering it but I am even more passionate about equitable access to education!

As a black woman, I am always faced with some barriers; people asking, “why is she here?” Well, they are not usually brave to directly ask the question, so I will hear anything from “we need someone with this expertise”, “could so, so not attend?” I giggle in my head and think, “Wait! You will know exactly why I am here”, and they usually end up getting it! I can confidently say that it’s education that allows me to have a place, a voice and more importantly, the power to let other girls and women who look like me to realise there’s no glass ceiling!  

As we celebrate international women’s day, I wanted to pay tribute to all the powerful and beautiful women around me; here at Judge Business School, family and friends that have been on my journey with me! Since I cannot list them all, I just have to mention a couple – my daughters, who inspire me to not only be better but make their world better, and my late mother who gave me the tenacity and drive that literally made me believe there’s no glass ceiling just by saying, “you go out there and show the world how it’s done!”.

Happy International Women’s Day!

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