If you take a look at the Board of Directors of this multi academy trust, you will notice something very odd. I know it’s hard to believe, but here we are in the twenty first century, at a time when equality is supposedly at the forefront of all our minds, and yet we have a board made up entirely of white (mostly business) men. Perhaps even more startling than this, though, is the fact that no one in this MAT stopped to think that this might be a problem. These ten men must have sat in meetings making decisions and never even noticed that there was something strange about the make-up of their team. Inspired by this example of a MAT #manel (all male panel), I decided to take a look at a selection of other multi academy trusts, particularly some of the larger and better known ones, to see whether their boards were more representative of the population, and of the children and families that they serve, than this Education South West one. It’s hard to know what someone’s ethnicity is from just a name, so I focused on checking gender balance. Although there were a handful of boards that were balanced in terms of gender*, the overwhelming majority were heavily weighted towards male representation.

8 men, 3 women
9 men, 3 women
6 men, 2 women
9 men, 3 women
8 men, 3 women
10 men, 3 women
8 men, 2 women
9 men, 3 women
8 men, 4 women
*4 men, 4 women
*3 men, 4 women
*2 men, 3 women

Some people might say – why is this an issue? Some might even resort to the hackneyed excuse ‘well, I guess they just chose the best people for the job’. To my mind, though, this is a problem. These MATs are educating huge numbers of our children, and the larger trusts have a lot of power within the system. If they are not representative of the population that they seek to serve, what kind of message is this sending to the children in their care? How can they make balanced decisions if there is no adequate representation? For educators to lead the change towards equity and equality (and surely this is one of the key areas where we should lead the way), the first thing we have to do is have a balanced set of role models at the top of the system. No matter how unbiased we might believe ourselves, the decisions we make tend to be based on the experiences that we’ve had. And if the voices of women and people from ethnic minority backgrounds are not heard in MAT board rooms, then we run a serious risk of entrenching inequality not overcoming it.

This entry was posted in Equality, Gender. Bookmark the permalink.

1 Response to Represent

  1. ana says:

    ‘Educating our children’ Yes – this is so important. I’m looking through the lens of how we present women in the curriculum – where are they?

    Liked by 1 person

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