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November 22nd 2018

'Though she be but little, she is fierce': The Mighty Girls' Club

One of the highlights of my week is seeing the Year 6 girls who form the Blackheath High School Mighty Girls’ Club. Every Wednesday I am guaranteed a lively discussion on all manner of issues relating to the role of women in the world today.

As an all girls school, we love teaching and encouraging our students to learn about important women in history and in modern times, which is why we love out Mighty Girls' Club.

Our first ever meeting was held with the Senior School’s Feminist Society who talked about the meaning of feminism and the empowering nature of women working together, with particular reference to the women’s Suffrage movement. Since then we have established the tradition of making friendship bracelets in the Suffragette colours and looking at the Suffragette movement as our opening session.

Researching key female figures in history has been a feature of the group. The unveiling of the Millicent Fawcett statue in Parliament Square was a recent focus. Remembrance Sunday prompted us to look at Edith Cavell, a British nurse, working in German-occupied Belgium during the First World War. She helped hundreds of British, French and Belgian soldiers escape the Germans and was arrested, tried and executed in 1915. The group discovered that she was also a GDST girl, having studied at Norwich High School.

The club also looks at more contemporary issues. Brexit headlines led us to looking at the key female figures. Watching Teresa May’s “Dancing Queen” performance at the Tory Party Conference and comparing that footage to Angela Merkel’s delivery provoked an stimulating discussion on leadership styles – made all the more interesting when one of the girls produced a book on British Prime Ministers and quoted several facts about Margaret Thatcher. Donald Trump was also brought into the mix! Good IT facilities mean we can find film footage easily; bringing the subjects to life.

We have looked at other women in public life such as Cressida Dick, the first woman to take the role of Commissioner of the Metropolitan Police Service in London (also a GDST alumna) and the London Fire Brigade Commissioner, Dany Cotton. The annual GDST Alumna of the Year competition also gives the girls the chance to learn about old girls who are making a real difference in the world; we look at every nominee and the girls can vote for their choice. To give a flavour of the calibre of alumna, this year’s winner, Dr Nirupa Murugaesu, is the Clinical Lead for Molecular Oncology at Genomics England, spear-heading the largest national sequencing project of its kind in the world – a ground-breaking project set up to harness the power of genomics in the treatment of rare diseases and cancers.

Within the club, girls have the freedom to run with an idea that interests them or is topical. Over the years, we have looked at the presentation of gender within advertising (the infamous Clark’s “Leader” shoes for boys), unconscious bias in the way we treat boys and girls (Girl toys vs Boy toys: The experiment - BBC Stories). Disney heroines have come under scrutiny with a highly critical analysis of the passive nature of the early princesses.

At our session this week, the girls were searching for quotes reflecting our ethos to be used in our new stained glass artwork commissioned to replace the Datchelor Glass. There was wholehearted support for “she wasn’t looking for a knight, she was looking for a sword”. It may not appear on the stained glass but it is definitely going on the Mighty Girls’ display board!


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