In a concerted effort to address gender inequality and ultimately empower our girls, Northwood College for Girls, has launched an initiative to ban ‘Princess culture’ and replace it with a Superhero campaign. Head Mistress, Miss Pain, comments: “Anyone who read about the controversy concerning Clarks children’s shoes may have wondered if this reputable company realises we are actually in the twenty first century. To the uninitiated, they recently had to withdraw girls’ school shoes, entitled ‘Dolly Babe’ from sale. The comparable boys’ shoe was called ‘Leader’.
The everyday sexism, embodied in the names of these two pairs of shoes, that does not see an issue with the notion that boys are doers, are powerful and set the agenda for the future (for surely this is what “leader” means) yet that little girls are defined by their looks and their desirability (for surely this is what “Dolly Babe” means; it doesn’t mean someone who is at the cutting edge of human advancement) is startling. It might have been acceptable in 1957, when gender stereotypes were the norm but it really isn’t ok in 2017.”
Head of Junior School, Mrs Hubble (pictured below, left), devised a plan to challenge limitation. “No more will we entertain the “Princess Culture”” Miss Pain explains. “When a Junior School pupil does something amazing (and they do so most of the time) whether that is in a Maths test, or in Sport, or in being kind to another, or making a speech, her reward is to become a Superhero for the day. Not a passive Princess waiting to be brought to life by her Prince, but a Superhero, with all that suggests: power, self-affirmation, strength and independence.”
Mrs Hubble has ten Superhero capes and the nominated girls choose which cape they want to adorn for the day. Their Superhero’s persona can be whatever they want it to be, they are free to invent themselves however they choose, and girls and staff ask the girls to explain their individual super powers when they see them around school.
Northwood College strongly believes that girls should be empowered to see that they can be whoever they want to be and not to feel limited in how they view their potential. “We all know that girls do just as well in exams as boys (actually usually better – more girls go to university than boys these days) and that girls can be engineers and astronauts just as boys can be nurses and dancers.” says Miss Pain.
“Schools like ours were set up because pioneering people (usually women) saw inequality and they literally put their money where their mouths were and their vision and inspiration was the beginning of the journey to a more equitable society, votes for women, equal pay and equal rights under the law. No passive stereotypes for us. Our girls are the FTSE 100 CEOs of the future, or whatever else they want to be.” Miss Pain concludes.