The Power of Storytelling
Addressing gender inequality in a way that goes beyond tokenism has historically been challenging, particularly in a boys’ school. Is it possible to deliver a feminist message that has male students of every age leaning in and listening, instead of pushing back?
After this week, I can confidently say yes.
Through the power of collaboration, storytelling, and relationships, we may have found the key to addressing gender inequity in a way that promotes self-reflection and true empathy in a lasting way.
In preparation for International Women’s Day, a passionate group of senior students and staff (both male and female), gathered to create a new way to promote gender equality within our College. The senior students were adamant that the voices heard on International Women’s Day this year, should be just that – the Women in our community.
Together we decided to film a series of interviews, with the aim of educating the students and staff about the complex difficulties of being a woman at a boys’ school. The interviews were cut into three 8-minute episodes, shown each morning in pastoral care.
They answered questions such as “Have you been treated a particular way because of your gender?”, “Have you ever felt intimidated at this school?”, “Why is International Women’s Day relevant at Whitefriars?” and “What can we do to create positive change?”
It was a true display of female empowerment, brought about by student agency and the result was even better than we could have hoped.
You could hear a pin drop in the classroom as the videos were playing, every set of eyes glued to the screen. The students were respectful, receptive, and attentive. The videos prompted many discussions, even in the school yard. They allowed other female staff to recall instances where they had personally faced accounts of gender discrimination and gave staff members the opportunity to help educate students about a variety of issues facing women not only in our school or Australian context, but around the world.
A heartfelt thankyou to the people involved in bringing this production together. I hope that this momentum continues, and we can do more positive work in the space of gender equality throughout the year.
Mrs Kelly Hoinville-Catania
Coordinator – Student Activities